With mercury soaring in many states and people from mainland heading for cooler Kashmir, the airfares on Srinagar sector have become prohibitive.
A cursory look at the travel web portals shows that the airfare on Delhi-Srinagar sector is touching Rs 17,000 for the coming days. Only two weeks ago, the airfare on this sector was between Rs 4000 to Rs 5000.
As per travel portals, the airfare to Srinagar from Metropolitan cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune and even Kolkata has also seen steep hike.
The rising airfare is giving tough time to the ordinary people especially the students and patients planning to travel back home to the Valley.
“From Delhi to Srinagar if we book a ticket one week prior to the travel date, it costs around Rs 8,000 to 10,000, which is too high as compared to what the rate was just a few months back,” said a frequent flyer.
According to the flyers same is the case with other sectors like Chandigrah, Lucknow and Bangalore to Srinagar. “This is an open loot by the private airlines when the airline regulator is playing mute spectator,” a flyer, who wished not to be named, said.
Meanwhile, a Srinagar-based representative of a private airline while talking to Greater Kashmir ascribed the sudden increase in the airfares to the demand-supply phenomenon. “It is beyond the control of airlines,” he said.
The vacations of Kashmiri students and working professionals outside the Valley coinciding with the tourist season “is also seen as a reason for the increase in the rush on this sector and subsequently the fare hike.”
“The fares are dynamic, completely based on the demand. For last few months Delhi-Srinagar airfare has been quite nominal but the recent increase in passenger rush has caused steep hike in the fare,” the executive said.
Tour operators in Kashmir, who had witnessed some improvement in the tourist arrivals during last few weeks, said the high airfares “prove a dampener for the tourism sector.”
Local tour operators said that the tourist families don’t afford costly Delhi-Srinagar air tickets. “The tourists who travel in large groups prefer visiting Himachal Pradesh or Uttrakhand,” they said.
Sheikh Ashiq, President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, the airlines must start additional and night flights to cater to the rush especially during the forthcoming Amarnathyatra.
“We hope the Air India and other airlines will start some additional and late evening flights between Delhi to Srinagar and vice-versa. We have already communicated this with Air India and have received a positive response from them,” Ashiq said.