Airlines have witnessed a drop of up to 20 per cent in bookings on Goa-Mumbai, Delhi-Mumbai and other routes days after Maharashtra government introduced mandatory RT-PCR tests for passengers from four states.
A senior executive of private airline said most of the bookings are being made for travel within fifteen days. Bookings for travel to Mumbai from Delhi, Ahmedabad and Goa fell 15-20 per cent and there have been some last minute cancellations with the introduction of new rule, he said.
From November 25, RT-PCR tests have been made mandatory for incoming air travellers from four states. Only airline crew and defence personnel have been exempted from mandatory tests. Passengers travelling by road and rail from Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Goa too are screened and subject to a rapid antigen test. The measures have been put in place to check the spread of Covid-19.
Seat occupancy on flights to Mumbai declined after November 25. While Goa-Mumbai flights were registering 95-100 per cent loads in mid-November it fell below 60 per cent twice in the last few days. Similarly loads on Ahmedabad-Mumbai flights which were consistently above 60 per cent in mid-November fell to 50 per cent in last few days.
An airline source however said the fall in loads was not steep and attributed it to natural decline in passenger traffic post Diwali. " It is not unusual to see a drop in loads two weeks after Diwali. None of the airlines are canceling flights to Mumbai, " he said.
Travel Agents Association of India president Jyoti Mayal said the government should subsidise the Covid-19 test and introduce uniform rules across the country to encourage domestic travel. "Overall we are seeing 25 per cent decline in bookings to Mumbai from the four states,'" she said and added that some Delhi residents were travelling to Mumbai via Chandigarh to skip the Covid-19 test.