Indians turn globe-trotters despite high fares

Despite high airfares, the new threat of Monkeypox, and visa issues for some European countries, all bets are still on the Indian traveller and online travel platforms and airlines continue to see an uptick in overseas bookings.

Indian carriers are seeing higher passenger occupancy levels on their international flights than what they recorded pre-Covid, executives and industry watchers said. IndiGo, India‘s biggest carrier by market share, is filling up more seats on its flights to the Middle East than it did more than two years ago, when Covid-19 was yet to hit global air travel. “Flights to the UAE and Saudi Arabia are doing extremely well,” said a person in the know.

Vistara is clocking passenger load factors of up to 80% on some of its flights.

Deveekaa Nijhawan, a spokesperson from Qatar Tourism, said with less than four months to go for the FIFA World Cup that the Arab nation hosts, the response from India has been “incredible”.

“We are expecting more than 1 million tourists for the FIFA World Cup, and we anticipate that India will be one of the most significant contributors. We look forward to accelerating our efforts to maintain momentum and fully unlock the potential of Indian travellers,” she added.

Qatar saw a steady increase in visitor arrivals from India with double-digit growth from 2019-2021, with India ranking as the highest source market.

Demand for travel to Singapore is also high as the Southeast Asian country has eased entry norms, said a person in the know. Of the 1.5 million visitors that Singapore received in the first half of this year, Indians represented the second biggest group with over 219,000 visiting the city state.

GB Srithar, regional director, India, Middle East, South Asia & Africa at the Singapore Tourism Board, said July numbers were healthy and the island continues to receive “good” visitor numbers from India. “Changi Airport is already seeing a restoration of about 70% of India’s pre-Covid flight capacity, covering over 180 weekly services,” he added.

A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines in India said the carrier is restoring its India network to pre-pandemic levels in the coming months. “SIA operates 73 flights a week from eight cities across India. This will increase to 80 flights a week by August 2, 2022, and 91 flights a week from September 1, 2022,” she said, adding there was robust growth in both leisure and corporate segments. EaseMyTrip CEO Nishant Pitti said European countries such as France, Spain and Denmark have worked on easing the visa issues and are working towards accelerating the entire process.

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Harry Byrne

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