Airlines face the worst crisis, only 25 passengers on a 256-seater flight

MUMBAI: When was the last time on a Friday afternoon, the online search for a flight the next morning to London and the return showed a total fare of only Rs 46,000? On Friday, he offered exactly that with a 75-minute stopover in Istanbul. In general, in March, return fares from Mumbai-London on direct flights would cost more than Rs 80,000 just 24 hours in advance.

On Friday, he could also have booked a flight from Delhi to New York, fly with a cabin suitcase and land in the US. UU. Before Saturday at midnight (local time) and return after Holi for only Rs 58,000. In March of any other year, a last-minute trip would cost more than Rs 80,000.

In the extraordinary circumstances in which international airlines find themselves, under the Covid-19 cloud, even the cheapest fares find few buyers. So, when a flight from Singapore took off from Mumbai this week, the 256-seater plane had only 25 passengers. Similarly, a London-Mumbai flight landed in the city with only 60 passengers in economy class. The outbreak has affected the results of the airlines as has never happened in the last two decades since September 11, industry experts say.

In addition to East Asian destinations, flights to West Asia, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have also been severely affected. On Friday, a resident of Mumbai or Delhi could have booked a flight back to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to travel this weekend at Rs 13,200.

On Friday, TOI found cheap return airfares to travel the next day (Saturday) and return, say next Wednesday. From Mumbai, the rates were low for trips to Paris (Rs 40,000 in GulfAir with a two-hour stop in Bahrain), Istanbul (nonstop for Rs 42,000), Berlin (Rs 59,000 in SwissAir with a one-hour stop) and Zurich (Rs 47,000 in Turkish Airlines with four-hour stopover in Istanbul). From Delhi, fares were low for trips to Moscow (Rs 32,500 in Aeroflot) and Paris (Rs 48,000 in IA, Rs 38,000 on a four-hour scale). Depending on the destination, a last-minute air ticket to Europe would cost between Rs 65,000 and Rs 90,000 at this time of year, said a travel agent.

“A round-trip fare in economy class by direct flight from London to Mumbai, purchased only 24 hours in advance at this time of year, would cost more than Rs 80,000. What is offered now is the lowest rate subclass, the agent said. However, on Friday, the cheapest fare on direct flights to London from Mumbai was Rs 53,000 and from Delhi it was Rs 58,000, both at Air India.

Like many airlines around the world, Air India has also begun to reduce flights. On Friday, he submitted an amendment to the schedule that reduced the frequency of his flights from Delhi to Singapore, Rome, Milan. Others, such as Emirates, currently have discount offers on their flights to Europe, Mauritius, Seychelles to travel from March 13 to November.

Earlier this week, International Air Transport Association (IATA), a commercial agency of the airlines, considered that these were extraordinary circumstances. “Airlines are experiencing serious drops in demand. Including, a company that experiences a 26% reduction in its entire operation compared to last year; a central operator who reports that reservations to Italy fell 108% as reserves collapse to zero and refunds grow and many operators that report 50% of absences in various markets, IATA said, asking aviation regulators that relax the rules so that airlines can reduce schedules and cancel flights without standing losing a slot