Air India’s ticket sales to the US surged by 100 per cent in the last week of March over the same period a year ago after the US ban on large electronic devices as hand luggage on flights originating from some Gulf countries.
Air India saw bookings surge to 300 per day per flight in the period between March 25-31 this year as against a sale of 150 tickets per day per flight in the corresponding period of last year, an airline source said.
The indefinite ban, which came into effect from March 25, has impacted 10 airports in the Middle East and nine airlines, including Turkish Airlines and major Gulf carriers like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Air India flies four flights to four US airports—New York, Newark, Chicago and San Francisco—from New Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
“Our sales increased from 150 tickets per day per flight during the same period last year to 300 tickets per day per flight in the first week following the ban,” said the source.
The increased demand has also meant a spike in ticket prices which have increased by Rs 10,000 for a single journey and Rs 15,000 for a return flight.
There are daily flights to Newark, New York and Chicago. Each of these have 336 seats per day per way. However, its Delhi-San Francisco flight is operated six times a week.
Of the total 8,472 seats per week on all its flights to the US, the airline has noticed an average 8,100 bookings, which is nearly 95 per cent occupancy on its aircraft.
The official, however, added the number of passengers on the return leg have not increased.
In the second week after the ban, ticket sales have however seen a dip.
“In the second week, however, we are seeing 220 tickets per day per flight. Taking into account the total bookings in both the first and second week, we can say that we have seen 60 per cent jump in passenger numbers,” the source added.
Air India’s operations to the US account for 20 per cent of the total revenue of the national carrier. In the just concluded fiscal, the state-owned carrier mopped up an estimated Rs 3,200 crore revenue, which is an increase of 17 per cent over FY16, from its US operations alone.