No takers for Goa flights

This year, in spite of premium airlines offering tickets at Rs500, many people have decided to take the 11-hour bus ride to Goa.

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Every year Prashant Sharma, a 32-year-old executive with a finance firm, headed to Goa with his friends for New Year celebrations. They used to book air tickets and were sometimes pleasantly surprised that the tickets cost only Rs7,000. This year, however, in spite of premium airlines offering tickets at Rs500, Sharma and his gang have decided to take the 11-hour bus ride to Goa.

“With recession and the recent terror strikes, a lot of people are either staying indoors or travelling only to nearby locations,” says Rajesh Rateria, owner of Cirrus Travels, Fort. “Airlines such as Kingfisher are offering tickets to Goa at Rs500 for the December 31 rush, yet there are no takers. Last year, a ticket for Mumbai-Goa cost Rs16,000 one way, and yet people bought it. But now not many are willing to pay Rs500, plus taxes. Most of my affluent clients have also cancelled their trips abroad,” he says.

Those who used to travel abroad during this season are now travelling within the country. “Since November 26, we have seen that those who used to fly business class have now moved to economy and those who flew economy now travel by bus or train,” says Phanindra Sama, CEO and co-founder of RedBus, an online bus ticketing agency.

“This year, we have seen a 40 per cent drop in business as compared to last year and all the bookings from Mumbai are only to nearby places like Mahableshwar or Goa,” he says.

Red Bus plies 40 buses every day on the Mumbai-Goa route. Usually, during this season, they have to add 100 extra buses. “This year we have not put any extra buses.
However, the existing buses are completely booked,” says Sama. 

Even Lalit Seth, CMD of Raj Travels’ bus service Raj National Express, agrees that traffic from Mumbai is not very encouraging. “Hardly anyone from Mumbai is headed to Goa after beach parties were cancelled in the wake of terror threats. However, we have seen a lot of bookings for Kerala. Since, people cannot travel by road to Kerala, they are taking flights to Bangalore and then taking the bus to Cochin,” says Seth. “Our Bangalore-Cochin buses are full.”
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