Whether you travel for enjoyment or for business, buying a plane ticket can be a taxing travel expense. But, over the years we have found that airfares have become more affordable than they were say a few decades back. Airfares and Kashmir have a very close connection due to Kashmir being global tourist destination and fragile road, incomplete rail connectivity of Kashmir .
Recently, when road was closed for several days the airfares skyrocketed. A check of airfares of different airlines from Srinagar to Delhi suggested that the spot fare was hovering around Rs 16,000 to RS 1800 . Normal fare between the two destinations is around Rs 3500 to 5,000.
At one point the airfare one way was as high as RS 34000, while as DELHI COOLMBO OR DELHI DUBAI round fare is often much less than this
Debate and concern over this huge increase in airfares was stoked by former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah, who tweeted, “The airlines should be forced to honour previous bookings when flights resume instead they get away with refunding the original amount (sic).”
“Tickets between Srinagar & Delhi are being offered by ‘low cost airlines’ at between Rs 25,000 & Rs 30,000 while the highway remains closed.”
“Thus forcing people who had originally spent Rs 5-6000 on a ticket to spend Rs 25-30,000. This is nothing but day light robbery,” he said in a series of tweets.
Even during Summer peak tourism season Kashmir witnesses spike in airfares and this adversely impacts prospects of tourism in Kashmir. This abnormal spike in airfares , apart from unfavorably affecting the tourism sector, also makes traveling by air prohibitive for the general public.
On the otherhand, few months back Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries while intervening in the issue met the authorities and was of the opinion that this intervention was necessitated in view of reports that a particular section of high-end tour operators and agents pool resources and block tickets en masse. During the season, these tickets are sold at very expensive prices resulting in a financial bonanza.
In this regard, the Chamber had suggested that the Government itself should block a particular number of seats so that the same could be released during the season. The chamber was of view intervention would go a long way in ensuring that the airfares are kept under control.
Mushtaq ul Haq Sikander, a frequent air traveler states- “ The abnormal surge in airfare in Kashmir during road blockade and summer peak tourism season is taxing for both tourists and commoners. At one point, the airtravel to Kashmir had become much affordable to commoners and travelers wishing to visit our beautiful valley of Kashmir. But, as the airfare skyrockets especially during tourist season and when the national highway closes due to weather vagaries woes of travelers are multiplied.”
Ground pulse urges that the need of the hour is to regulate the airfare to Kashmir in a feasible manner. As air mode of transport to Kashmir will always hold the significance owing to the tough geographical terrain and location of Kashmir so the demand is that it should be better managed and regulated.