Thursday, February 28, 2008

Short-haul flyers shun new airport

Short-haul flyers shun new airport
Poor Road Link Sees Steep Decline In Air Bookings
Anshul Dhamija | TNN

Bangalore: Fears are coming true. The new Bengaluru International Airport appears to be putting off travellers flying on short-haul routes — those that have a flight time between 30 minutes and an hour.
Reason: the airport is around 40 km from the city and the accessibility is poor. Most are dreading the commute to and from the airport and the expense involved. The rail and road options could be more attractive for many.
According to a senior official of a low-cost airline, ticket sales for April and May between Bangalore and Hyderabad, Kochi, Chennai and Coimbatore have dropped between 30% and 35% compared to the same period last year.
“Those who are travelling before March 30, when the new airport opens, and plan to come back after March 30, are booking onward flight tickets but are wary about booking their return tickets,” said the official. “Passengers having to fly out of the city from the new airport are thinking twice if their chosen destinations are on the short-haul sectors.”
Over 40% of the flights out of Bangalore are to short-haul destinations. Low-cost airlines fill up close to 70% of their capacity through bookings made one to two months in advance, as prices of tickets increase closer to the date of travel.
A majority of these advance bookers are visiting-relatives-and-friends segment of passengers who plan their travel well in advance.
Observers say airlines may now have to rethink their shorthaul strategy. “If people find train and bus travel to be a smarter option, then airlines will have to discontinue certain short-haul routes or rationalize their frequency on some,” said an industry observer.
Full-service airlines say they haven’t seen a dip in sales post-March 30. But a Jet Airways official said sales on short-haul routes could take a beating until passengers get attuned to travelling the long distance to the new airport.
At a recent press briefing, Albert Brunner, CEO of Bangalore International Airport Ltd, had said the new airport would witness a 26% increase in domestic flights compared to what HAL airport currently handles. HAL now handles over 300 domestic flights a day.
This is on account on the availability of additional slots. But airlines operating across the price spectrum have told TOI that the additional slots will be used to increase traffic on long-haul routes like Bangalore-Mumbai and Bangalore-Delhi, as well as open newer long-haul routes from the city. Short-haul routes are unlikely to increase.
Over 40% of flights out of Bangalore are to short-haul destinations Airlines see a drop in bookings Poor accessibility to new airport reason Airlines may have to rethink strategy


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