Travel restrictions are in place only for a limited number of countries but people are cancelling or postponing travel to prevent the spread of coronavirus. “A Mumbai-New York return economy class ticket in May is now available for around Rs 65,000. Normally this would cost upwards of Rs 80,000. Similarly, non-stop return tickets to London during the same period are being sold for Rs 50,000 which is around 17 per cent cheaper than usual,” said Rakshit Desai, managing director of FCM Travel Solutions.
An executive from a European airline said loads have declined 30 per cent in the last few days. “Right now on our outbound flights, passengers mostly comprise Europeans or US nationals returning home from their India trip or Indians visiting the US on long visits or work visas. Those travelling for short business trips are cancelling.
The number of foreign visitors on inbound flights is declining because of a cut in corporate travel and also since it is the end of leisure season. The next two weeks are crucial as we could see a further drop in loads,” he said.
In response to fall in demand, airlines are suspending flights, grounding planes and deploying capacity to countries with few coronavirus cases. German airline Lufthansa is grounding 150 planes, while executives in many Asian and European airlines are taking pay cuts.
“We have seen a 30-35 per cent drop in airfares across routes,” said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and chief executive officer of ixigo.