Shimla-Delhi flights are sold out but others are available much below the capped limit of Rs 2,000
Five days after Prime Ministerlaunched the “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik”, or UDAN, scheme from Shimla airport, Tushar Patel tried to book tickets from Delhi to the hill station. To his surprise, he couldn’t find the subsidised Rs 2,500 fare. Instead, the cheapest fare in May was Rs 8,049 and on some days, it was as high as Rs 15,090.
Travellers lapped up the cheaper tickets soon after the scheme was launched. “On Delhi-Shimla route, all tickets reserved under UDAN scheme are sold out until June end. What’s available now are few seats that have market-linked rates,” says CS Subbiah, chief executive officer of Alliance Air, an Air India subsidiary.
This is quite a contrast to the other three routes that are operational at present. If you were to take a round trip between Mumbai and Nanded, the fares are Rs 4,000 – below the cap of Rs 2,500 one way. But if you are flying between Hyderabad and Kadapa or Nanded and Hyderabad, you can get a return ticket even for around Rs 2,000.
Shimla stands out among all other operational routes because of the holiday season. “The city is one of the most popular holiday destinations in India, hitherto inaccessible to many tourists due to lack of convenient air connectivity. It is also a state capital. There is a huge unmet demand,” says Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG.
The number of seats available on the route are much lower, too, because the airport is at a high altitude. “From Delhi to Shimla, the 42-seater aircraft can only carry 35 passengers.