Thursday, July 31, 2008

BUS! Flights are expensive

BUS! Flights are expensive
Demand For Luxury Bus Travel Zooms; Tickets Up By 10 Per Cent
Anshul Dhamija & Swati Anand | TNN

Bangalore: With air fares soaring to greater heights each day, luxury bus travel on regional short-haul routes has taken off.
Luxury coaches, which comprise mainly Volvo and other air-conditioned buses, have witnessed a phenomenal growth of 30% in the last month, while the airlines saw a 15% to 20% dip in passenger traffic.
Adding to the buoyancy, bus operators have increased their fares on routes like Bangalore-Chennai, Bangalore-Hyderabad and Chennai-Hyderabad.
“Bus operators have increased their prices on the hitherto prime air travel routes by 10% as bus sales have shot up by more than 25% on these routes,” says Amit Aggarwal, CTO of Flightraja Travels.
Usually this is considered a low season for bus travel as the monsoon has set in, with bus operators traditionally dropping fares by 10% to 15%.
“But this monsoon, there has been no slump. In fact, we’ve seen particularly high growth in the Mumbai-Bangalore, Mumbai-Hyderabad, Bangalore-Chennai and Pune-Ahmedabad segment. On the trunk Bangalore-Chennai route alone, we’ve seen 35%- 40% growth in the last month. On an average we are witnessing a 25% month-on-month growth,” said Phanindra Sama, co-founder of, a site for bus ticket booking.
TOI had earlier reported that the profitable Bangalore-Chennai sector had witnessed a 20% drop in air ticket sales. The ticket prices have risen between 10% and 15% due to the ATF price rise. At present the price of a one-way Bangalore-Chennai ticket averages to Rs 4,100. A bus ticket on this route would be Rs 500-Rs 550 — about one-fifth the price of an air ticket.
Besides, a number of airlines like Paramount Airways and Spice Jet have trimmed their frequencies on this sector as the load factor had dropped by 50%.
Travel agents say Bangalore particularly has seen a 30% drop in air passenger traffic on short-haul routes and a 10%-15% drop in traffic on domestic long-haul routes from Bangalore. has reported an overall 15% dip in air travel from last month. “While long-haul flights have seen a 12% dip, short-haul have seen a 20% dip. The change has been particularly dramatic on the Bangalore-Chennai and Delhi-Jaipur routes,” says Dhruv Shringi, founder of the travel portal.
In the coming months, people can look forward to more travel packages from bus operators. “Our focus now is very strong on bus and train since these are the future segments of growth,” Shringi says.
Aggarwal adds that with demand for luxury coaches on the rise, bus operators would be forced to add additional capacity. “Around a year ago, our break-up in passenger travel was 50% non-AC and 50% AC and luxury buses. But now, almost 70% of our travellers prefer luxury buses,” says Sama.
Bus services are improving their overall standards to welcome the new set of passengers. “We’re in talks with all the branded bus operators to chart out a road guarantee formula, where by passengers would be assured of complete safety, on-time performance and other benefits as many people — particularly air travellers — still have apprehension of commuting by bus,” said an industry expert.


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