India: Holidayers make up for missed flights : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

By Srinivas Laxman

The Times of India News Service

MUMBAI: Planning to fly to Paris, Zurich or to an exotic Asian destination like Singapore during the next few days? Just forget it because flights to these places have been going full despite the fact the holiday season has not fully picked up in Mumbai.

Airline industry sources believe this rush for tickets was taking place because many company executives and their families who could not go on their annual Christmas and New Year holiday in December on account of the Y2K problem were doing so now. A Swissair official said, ``Till now there was high season and low season travel. But, now it seems to be all high season travel.''

``Right now from Mumbai it will be impossible to get a seat on a flight to Zurich on the day of your choice. Some passengers get wait listed, go to the airport and try their luck if there were any cancellations. But, invariably they return disappointed,'' she said. Swissair operates six flights a week from Mumbai to Zurich.

The official said many people wanted to enjoy a holiday in Switzerland which explains why all the Zurich-bound flights from Mumbai are currently operating to full capacity.

Most of the demand for air tickets at present was for West-bound destinations and an Air-India (AI) spokeswoman said it would be difficult to get a seat to London or New York. ``Normally, the peak season begins after April 15, but this year it has started much earlier,'' she said. A Singapore Airlines spokeswoman said, ``Our flights are going full.'' KLM too has reported high loads and has in fact advised passengers with confirmed tickets not to alter their travel plans as it will be impossible to get a seat.

The situation is the same with Air France (AF) too which is also experiencing a full load of passengers on its Mumbai-Paris flights these days. ``Our computer reservation system indicates that the flights are full till April-end,'' an official said here on Thursday.

Travel agents said many agencies had publicised exotic foreign holiday packages with several incentives which proved very attractive. They said this was one of the reasons why there was a heavy demand for airline seats. This apart, they also stated that many businessmen could now afford to buy air tickets for their families and go abroad on a holiday. ``Airlines were not offering any major discounts on the fares at present,'' said a travel agent.

``We are experiencing very high demand on all the 15 flights a week to Frankfurt which we operate from Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi,'' said Lufthansa's Delhi-based spokesperson. ``Only as recent as March 27 we had to reschedule our flights out of Mumbai and we are now offering an additional flight on Monday to facilitate our passengers,'' she said. The airline has five weekly flights from Mumbai to Frankfurt.

The spokesperson explained that with some airlines like United Airlines pulling out from the India route the market had witnessed a capacity crunch. Another factor responsible for the high demand is because of the boom in the software industry. A large number of professionals are moving to the West to take up jobs in the U.S. and other countries.

Only two airlines operating from Mumbai, Delta and British Airways (BA) have stated that their flights were not going full. Said a BA official, ``We had full loads 10 days ago but now the situation is easing.'' A Delta official said that up to March-end the flights to New York from Mumbai were going full. ``In the first week of April the situation slightly improved,'' he added.

-- viewer (, April 10, 2000

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