Airlines pitch to increase fare by 15% but fear drop in passenger number


boss on Thursday pitched to increase air fares as price was hiked by almost 16 per cent. price was hiked to Rs 141,232.87/kl- in Delhi, which is an all-time high.

Also, a weakening rupee has doubled the challenge for airline boardrooms because of the higher exposure to the US dollar. Some key cost items like fuel, maintenance, lease rentals, and overhaul costs are billed in US dollars.

“The sharp increase in jet fuel prices and the depreciation of the rupee have left domestic airlines with little choice but to immediately raise fares and we believe that a minimum 10-15 percent increase in fares is required to ensure that cost of operations are better sustained,” said.

However, executives are also wary that any increase in fares may lead to a decline in passenger numbers. Since the two rounds of fare hike, there has been a decline in passenger numbers. From 407,975 passengers on 17 April, it has come down to 339,175 on 14 June.

The price of has normally been 40 per cent of an airline’s cost. But since the beginning of this year, prices have increased every fortnight. In the nine hikes since January 1, prices have been increased by Rs 49,017.8 per kl (Rs 49 per litre) or nearly 55 per cent.

The Indian rupee plunged to an all-time low on Monday as it breached 78-mark against the US dollar for the first time.

Market leader posted a loss of Rs 1,681 crore in the three months to March (Q4FY22), hit severely by the rise in jet fuel price and higher exchange rate. Fuel expense of the airline increased by 68 per cent to Rs 3,220.58 crore during the three months ending March as against Rs 1,914.45 crore during the same period last financial year.

“This massive increase is not sustainable and governments, central and state, need to take urgent action to reduce taxes on that are amongst the highest in the world. We have in the last few months tried to absorb as much burden of this fuel price rise, which constitutes more than 50% of our operational cost, as we could,” Singh said.

Historically, supply and demand have been the driver for higher fares as compared to fuel prices. Airlines reported their best yield in FY 13 (after grounding Kingfisher Airlines), in FY 15 (after SpiceJet’s cut in capacity post change of ownership), and latest in Q1 FY20 (when Jet Airways shut operations).

The air fares are already high due to the government-mandated fare floors, which regulates price beyond 15 days. Market leader reported a multi-quarter high yield of Rs 4.41, an increase of 19 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) and 5.2 per cent sequentially.

“Ticket prices are subject to supply and demand. They are subject to capacity. I don’t think there will be a direct reaction to the fuel price hike on air ticket prices. If demand drops, fares will have to correct themselves,” Vistara CEO Vinod Kannan said.

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