Keralites will have to pocket more to reach home this festival season. Airfare and charges for interstate bus services have hit a new high ahead of Christmas as airlines and stagecoaches hike fares.
As Christmas falls on a Sunday, the Friday before the holiday and the Saturday and Monday will be the most expensive days to travel, based on current booking trends.
Air fares have gone up by around 400-500% on major domestic routes, while stage carriers connecting Kerala with major cities in South India have also hiked fares by over 100%. A Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram flight ticket will cost ₹26,430 on Friday, while a Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuam flight ticket is ₹17,042 on the same day, compared to ₹1,500-3,000 on normal days.
Southern Railway will run 17 special train services mainly between Ernakulam and Kollam in the State to Chennai, Velankanni and Tambaram in Tamil Nadu from December 22 to January 2 to decongest excess traffic.
Also, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) will run some inter-state special services from Wednesday, keeping in mind the high demand. But these services are not enough to meet the demand during the festival. No special train has been announced between Bengaluru and Kerala despite high demand.
AJ Rijaz, president of the Ernakulam Contract Transport Operators Association, said that the stage transporters also follow a dynamic pricing system in which the ticket fares will increase based on demand.
Although the airlines have increased their fares by 400-500%, bus prices have only increased by around 100%. Despite the high demand for tickets to Kerala over time, buses will return to Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad without enough passengers, he said.
Railways used to announce special trains based on online booking trends. Normally, if there are more reservations in the waiting list, one or two extra coaches will be allotted and if the list is significantly longer, they will consider pressing an additional special train, railway officials said.
Since there is no general fee admission, people will look for other alternatives without trying their luck in the waiting list, says K. Suresh, an IT worker in Bengaluru.