As countries close borders, airfares to US, UK up 3 times
On Thursday, the cheapest one-way fare from Mumbai or Delhi to New York for travel this weekend (April 23) started at just over Rs 1.4 lakh on an Air India flight. For travel next week, say on April 29, the cheapest was Rs 1.5 lakh for travel from Mumbai on a non-stop flight, while it was Rs 60,000 for a 20-hour flight with a transit halt.
Advance purchase ticket, say for one-way travel from Mumbai to Newark, on, say May 15, started at Rs 60,000. But with uncertainty over whether flights from India will be banned by US by then, it’s not a viable option now. The cheapest one-way fare to San Francisco began at over Rs 1 lakh for travel next week, on long duration transit flights.
A travel agent said, “Airfares on flights to the US and the UK have more than tripled with the second Covid wave hitting India hard. Add to that uncertainty over whether these countries will ban flights from India in the coming days, and that leaves passengers with no choice but to book 24-48 hour advance purchase tickets.”
That is the problem facing students who have booked to fly to the UK in May. UK will add India to its ‘red list’ of countries on Friday. A note sent by Virgin Atlantic to travel agents said, “Entry to the UK is banned to all but British and Irish nationals and residents, who must undertake 10-day hotel quarantine upon arrival.” The airline added that it was reviewing its schedule of India operations from April 23 and recommended that customers booked to travel to or from India with them check their flight status.
A travel industry official said, “Several students booked to fly out next week, but with uncertainty, many decided to reschedule flights and land before the red list deadline. The problem is they have to pay a hefty fare difference, apart from change fee.’’ The cheapest one-way Mumbai-London ticket for non-stop travel on Friday started at Rs 99,000 on Virgin Atlantic on a flight that beat the deadline. But for travel on Saturday, there were no practical options. The cheapest fare was on Vistara for Rs 1.1 lakh for a 24-hour flight with a transit in Delhi.
Meanwhile on Thursday, Seychelles announced that only vaccinated visitors from India who have completed two weeks after their second dose can enter the archipelago. “All visitors irrespective of vaccination status will have to present a negative PCR test report taken maximum 72 hours prior to departure,” said a Seychelles tourism spokesperson.