Affluent section opts for air travel as Eid nears

Demand for chopper service on the rise


FE Report | Published: June 12, 2018 12:34:01 | Updated: June 13, 2018 10:40:41


Local airliners are experiencing a rush of homebound ticket-seekers ahead of the Eid-ul-fitr, operators said.

Poor condition of highways and difficulties in getting tickets of both trains and passenger launches are forcing people of upper and upper-middle income brackets to choose air travel as an alternative.

To cope with such growing demand, the operators are set to introduce extra flights on a number of routes from today (Tuesday).

Airline operators said the additional flights will be made available on routes where the demand is higher.

The routes include Dhaka-Jashore, Dhaka-Saidpur and Dhaka-Rajshahi

Despite introducing additional flights, the airliners are not being able to meet the demand because over 90 per cent of the tickets have already been booked.

To tap the demand in the highly-competitive market, the airline authorities are offering discounts on ticket prices to credit card holders.

The discounts range from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, depending on issuers of credit cards.

They also offered a significant price cut on Dhaka-bound post-Eid travels as the return flights usually attract fewer passengers.

There are four operators on the domestic market with the privately-owned US-Bangla Airlines remaining as the dominant player.

Novoair, Regent and Biman are other operators.

When contacted, senior manager of Novoair AKM Mahfuzul Alam said an increasing number of customers are availing their services.

He said Novoair will start operating six extra flights from today (Tuesday). On each of Dhaka-Jashore, Dhaka-Saidpur and Dhaka-Rajshahi routes, there will be two flights daily.

"Some 98 per cent of our tickets have already been sold out. But people are still coming in large numbers for tickets," said the official of Novoair.

Novoair controls roughly a quarter of the domestic market share.

He said his company launched a mobile app earlier this month and passengers are entitled to 10 per cent price-cut if they book tickets using the app.

"The offer will be available for three months," he said.

General manager of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Shakil Meraj termed the rush of ticket aspirants on the eve of Eid "unprecedented".

"We're struggling to tackle the pressure due to the demand-supply mismatch," said Meraj, also Biman's spokesperson.

The situation remains same for other airliners, he added.

About special Eid services, he said a total of four additional flights will be operating from tomorrow (Wednesday).

He said two flights will carry passengers each of Rajshahi and Barishal routes tomorrow.

Two other flights will fly to Saidpur and Jashore on the following day.

"More than 90 per cent tickets are sold out. We're witnessing at least 20 per cent growth in passenger turnout," he said.

The national flag carrier is providing discounted price for credit card holders of 10 commercial banks.

The Biman is also offering large discounts to passengers coming to Dhaka after Eid as return flights are likely to remain almost vacant.

The situation with US Bangla and Regent Airways was almost the same.

But allegations of overcharging passengers are ripe against the airliners.

Kabir, who booked Rajshahi ticket for June 15, said that the US Bangla charged over Tk 7000 for the one way journey against the actual fare of Tk around 3000.

Kazi Wahidul Alam, an aviation-industry consultant and editor of the fortnightly Bangladesh Monitor, said the poor conditions of highways and waterways forced the passengers to opt for air travel.

He said people's purchasing capacity has gone up significantly over the years.

He suggested that the government take a long-term plan of action to develop the airlines industry and make it a "real alternative option" for the people.

By doing so, the pressure on highways can be reduced.

During holy Eid-ul-Fitr, the largest religious festival of the Muslims, the demand for the choppers goes up as many people from the upper income segment tend to avail their services.

Talking to the FE, Director (flight operations) of Square Air Ltd Kamal said his company has two choppers and people are in touch to avail services.

"It has huge demand in the country as the rich people prefer it to go to their hometown with families," he added.

Meanwhile, the passengers' battle for ticket seeking inter-district buses continued on Monday.

Many of the home-goers were found roaming around Gabtoli, Kallyanpur, Shyamoli, Kalabagan bus counters to secure bus tickets and go home to celebrate the Eid festival in villages or towns with their near and dear ones.

jubairfe1980@gmail.com, tonmoy.wardad@gmail.com

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