It was the many tweets that were being sent to the Civil Aviation minister that alerted us about the ongoing airfare surge in flights to and from flood affected areas in the North East. With the trains being cancelled, flights became the only available means of transportation for the people of North East India. Given the sudden demand in air traffic, the airfares jumped even up to 10 times in a single day! So we decided to analyze the surge and present the facts before you.
This kind of airfare surges were observed earlier too. The floods in the Kashmir valley surged the airfares in and out of Srinagar. Same happened with Chennai during the Chennai floods. It happened with Chandigarh during the Jat agitations.
Two of the worst affected airports in the flood map for North East are Bagdogra and Guwahati. Flights to and from these airports are the most affected by the airfare surges. In order to make a meaningful comparison, we chose to compare the observed surge fares with the flights for 12th Aug, as it is a known high demand flight date (Saturday before the independence day weekend) and 14th Aug, as it is a known low demand flight date (right in between the Independence day weekend).
Guwahati – Bagdogra:
The flight in particular that we found with high surge fares was a Vistara flight UK-868 departing Guwahati at 13:20 and arriving at Bagdogra 65min later at 14:25 for the flight date 22 Aug.
As you can see here, the fares for the flight departing 22 Aug, which were just Rs.1682 as observed on 18th Aug, that is 4 days before flight, surged to Rs.16,402 the very next day. That is almost a 10times increase in airfare within 24hrs!
Guwahati – Kolkata
The flight in particular that we found with high surge fares was a SpiceJet flight SG-658 departing Guwahati at 15:10 and arriving at Kolkata 80min later at 16:30 for the flight date 20 Aug.
As you can see here, the fares for the flight departing 20 Aug, which were just Rs.4269 as observed on 16th Aug, that is 4 days before flight, surged to Rs.13,571 within 2 days. The airfares for 20th were initially on the same trajectory as seen for 12th Aug date. The clear breakout from that trajectory is surely due to the demand in the last 4 days.
Bagdogra – Kolkata
The flight in particular that we found with high surge fares was a Jet Airways flight 9W-7159 departing Bagdogra at 12:50 and arriving at Kolkata 60min later at 13:50 for the flight date 21 Aug.
As you can see here, the fares for the flight departing 21 Aug, which were just Rs.3945 as observed on 16th Aug, that is 5 days before flight, surged to Rs.16,887 within 3 days. The airfares for 21st were initially on the same trajectory as seen for 12th and 14th Aug date. The clear breakout from that trajectory is surely due to the demand in the last 5 days.
Kolkata – Bagdogra
The flight in particular that we found with high surge fares was a GoAir flight G8-538 departing Kolkata at 12:50 and arriving at Bagdogra 65min later at 13:55 for the flight date 20 Aug.
As you can see here, the fares for the flight departing 20 Aug, which were just Rs.3830 as observed on 16th Aug, that is 4 days before flight, surged to Rs.15,981 within 2 days. The airfares for 20th were initially on the same trajectory as seen for 14th Aug date. The fares were probably sold out by 18th Aug as we could not find a fare observation after that.
How about Indigo and AirIndia?
After seeing the surge fares for Vistara, SpiceJet, JetAirways and GoAir, we were wondering what really happened with Indigo and AirIndia?
For this, we took the route of Bagdogra – Kolkata, a route that had seen one of the highest surge fares. We looked for Indigo and AirIndia flights for 20th Aug and 21st Aug, the 2 days for which we saw the high surge fares. We took flights that departed closest to the Jet Airways flight departing 12:50 which had high surge fares.
For Indigo flight 6E-958 departing 12:35, the maximum surge for the flight departing 21 Aug was only Rs.8480. Hence this got sold out by 18 Aug.
For AirIndia, since we couldn’t find a comparable flight in this route, we looked at the route Guwahati – Kolkata for 20th Aug. We took flights that departed closest to the SpiceJet flight departing 15:10 which had high surge fares.
For AirIndia flight AI-775 departing 18:50 on the same day, the maximum surge for the flight departing 20 Aug was only Rs.4321. Hence this got sold out by 17 Aug itself. Same happened with the AirIndia AI-730 departing 11:45 which surged till Rs.10,027.
Whether there was indeed an internal fare limiting logic built into the pricing algorithms or was it just because the seats got sold out before the surge happened is something that these airlines alone can answer.
While the airlines are allowed to freely adjust airfares to the market demand, calamities like the floods and the subsequent surge fares increase calls to regulate the high fares. The above analysis is just an effort to indicate the level of surge pricing that is currently ongoing in the North East sectors.
While this type of analysis may not have been possible in earlier airfare surge instances, thanks to our huge database of airfares that is currently used to predict future airfare movements (Unfare: http://unfare.in), we are able to go back and check the airfares and present this information to you. We hope the flood situation improves, rail and road connectivity gets restored and the fares come back to normal levels in the North East.
PS: In case you have a suggestion for a better chart or better representation of airfare data, do reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org . Given that this is an ongoing issue, we will update this post with additional fare analysis as and when that is available. Observations regarding airlines, especially on Indigo and AirIndia are based on the fares that we have observed every morning at 5am. In case you are aware of surge fares that we have missed, do let us know about it in the comments.