Passengers opt for flexible air tickets amid Omicron scare: travel portals

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NEW DELHI: The Omicron scare has halted revival of the travel industry for the period and passengers have started deferring their trips, travel portals said. They also mentioned that the travel demand has seen a slight drop and travellers are emphasising on hygiene and safety before selecting a destination.

“The current customer trends showcase a strong emphasis on safety and hygiene, and customers are now starting to choose places that uphold high safety standards and which are following Covid-safe protocols. In 2021, we experienced a 400% jump in advance bookings for flight tickets for the year-end holidays; however, the dawn of the Omicron variant halted the travel revival that we expected for this period. Despite this new surge, the travel sentiment remains strong,” said Rihant Pittie, co-founder, EaseMyTrip.

“Customers are yearning to travel once the restrictions are lifted. Even with new variants, restrictions and limitations, the travel industry is expected to only grow further in the coming year as industry stakeholders and travellers are gradually adapting to the evolved travel norms,” Pittie added.

According to ratings agency ICRA, the rising infections due to Omicron variant could have some impact on the passenger traffic due to the passengers being apprehensive for air travel and also a few state governments imposing restrictions.

“However, there has been limited impact due to the Omicron in December 2021. The average daily passenger for the week beginning December 27, 2021 was at 3.4 lakh when compared to 3.7 lakh and 3.6 lakh during the week beginning Dec 20, 2021 and Dec 13, 2021,” said Rajeshwar Burla, vice president and group head, corporate ratings, ICRA.

While there is some softening in demand due to rising Omicron cases in the country, Cleartrip said that the travellers are looking for flexible travel options that have them covered in case there is a sudden change in regulations due to the new Covid-19 variant.

“As a result, we are seeing a higher interest in our products – EzCancel that offers a 100% refund on cancellations and Flexifly which enables consumers to change plans. Customers buying Flexifly VAS have doubled since November while EZCancel is also seeing a spike in the adoption,” said Prahlad Krishnamurthi, chief brand officer, Cleartrip.

Cleartrip has seen an increase in modification and cancellation of existing bookings over the last couple of weeks as travellers are adjusting their plan due to revised advisories. Krishnamurthi said, “In 2022, the domestic flight trends are looking very strong compared to 2021. Metro destinations are on track to exceed 2021 numbers.”

While Yatra.com said that it is too early to comment regarding summer travel, its spokesperson also said that travellers are more mindful of the destinations and properties they choose. “They are opting for travel and accommodation options following stringent procedures of safety and sanitisation measures at each touchpoint,” Yatra.com spokesperson reiterated.

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