Prices of airlines tickets have doubled or tripled as operators fleece most of the air-bound passengers ahead of the Eid-ul-Azha festival.
Airlines companies and travel agencies, however, blame each other for such an abnormal rise in ticket prices.
People are now desperate about securing air tickets to have a hassle-free journey home on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha to be celebrated on August 22.
Airlines said most of tickets of flights to Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Jessore, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Saidpur, Ishuardi and Barisal from August 14 to August 28 have already been sold out.
Home-goers, however, said the air companies, which had many lucrative offers in normal days, are charging double or triple rates for tickets now.
Domestic airlines including Bangladesh Biman, US Bangla, Novoair and Regent Airways are now busy carrying domestic passengers ahead of the Eid.
Discounted-tickets from Dhaka to Saidpur were available at Tk 2,200 to Tk 3,250 in July, it has surged to Tk 6,700 to Tk 8,750 per ticket before Eid," said Rafiul Bari, merchandising manager with a garment company.
He said the low price of air tickets has drawn the middle-class people into air travel in the country now-a-days.
The airlines are now getting increased passengers, thanks to such middle-class customers, he added.
"The earlier price (price of July) was affordable but now price has doubled or even tripled. We'll be deprived OF a smooth journey ahead of Eid," he said.
Scenario is same for the passengers of other routes like Jessore, Chittagong, and Cox's Bazar.
Secretary-general of the Bangladesh Passengers' Welfare Association Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury told the FE that no individual passenger could avail air tickets at discounted rate ahead of this Eid.
He said the dominance of travel agents and airlines officials is responsible for the surge in prices of low-priced tickets.
Md Masudur Rahman, manager of Skyline International Travels, a Saidpur-based travel agent, said operators like Novo Air, US Bangla and Regent raised the prices by curtailing the number of low-priced tickets.
He said in normal days, 80 per cent tickets remain as discounted, which has decreased to just 30 per cent before Eid.
He also said the companies have kept some of the tickets with them.
Bangladesh Biman managing director Muhammad Zaikul Islam said once the upper-class people availed air trips, but the condition has changed as the emerging middle class also prefers air travel now.
He said the awful road communication system and scarcity of tickets have added extra pressure to the flights.
He noted that there are various categories of tickets in a plane.
He said discounted tickets for all routes are sold out much earlier while some high-end tickets of every route are left.
Senior manager (marketing) of Novoair A K M Mahfuzul Alam said most of the tickets of Jessore, Chittagong, Saidpur and Sylhet routes were sold out, while tickets for other destinations are also in high demand.
He said a total of 20 flights of his company would leave Dhaka during the Eid vacation, of which seven will fly to Chittagong.
He said their capacity is above 1,100 passengers a day while the demand is ten times the supply.
The daily highest capacity of the airlines to carry domestic passengers is only 9,000, but the demand rises to more than 50,000 during occasions like Eid festivals, according to the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB).
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