India, the world's fastest-growing major aviation market before the pandemic, expects local traffic to exceed pre-pandemic levels of 415,000 daily fliers within a year. (Bloomberg)
Indians are holidaying lavishly now, spending more on five-star hotels and booking business-class seats as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic that restricted travel for two years, according to the South Asian nation’s second-biggest online travel agency.
"People are living their lives and splurging on travel," Prashant Pitti, a co-founder of EaseMyTrip, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday. "It’s a shift which is happening for good, for long-term."
More and more Indians are taking to the skies as travel curbs ease and the country opens up international travel, with pent-demand driving travel needs for millions stuck at home. India, the world’s fastest-growing major aviation market before the pandemic, expects local traffic to exceed pre-pandemic levels of 415,000 daily fliers within a year. Indian airlines are also adding capacity to capture the revival in demand as international flights resumed from Sunday.
To prepare for the travel rebound, India may have to add as many as 120 planes every year, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said last week, urging local airlines to expand their fleet of widebody aircraft needed for international operations.
Bookings for business class seats on flights and five-star hotels have already doubled compared to pre-pandemic numbers as a percentage of total reservations, Pitti said. Indians are now planning holidays of 4.7 days on average, compared with 3.2 days before Covid, he said. Operated by Easy Trip Planners Ltd., EaseMyTrip offers online bookings for flights, trains, hotels, buses and cabs.
EaseMyTrip, which sold shares to the public last year, will continue to grow profitably, Pitti said. The company’s net income likely surpassed 9 billion rupees ($118 million) for the year ending March 31, jumping from 6.1 billion rupees ($80 million) previous year, he said.
While airfares have jumped "quite dramatically" in the last few weeks as carriers tried to offset a rise in oil prices, the increase will be short-lived, said Pitti.
"India is looking great, in lines to recover very rapidly from the onslaught which we all have been through in the last two years," he said. "The pent-up demand won’t shorten for next couple of years."