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Will Bengaluru, Kochi flights slam brakes on luxury bus operations?


(Rep image)

With Tiruchy airport likely to host services to Bengaluru and Kochi next month, several long-distance luxury bus operators in the city fear they would lose a chunk of their profits.

Currently, Tiruchy-Bengaluru is one of the most preferred destinations for the luxury bus operators. The poor connectivity by rail and air to the country’s IT hub augured well for the luxury bus operators operating in this route.

But, with IndiGo planning operations in Bengaluru and Kochi a major portion of the luxury bus users would prefer air route as there is only a marginal difference in ticket fare between the two. For instance, currently, the flight fare to Bengaluru from Tiruchy is Rs 1785 (*subject to change). Meanwhile, the luxury bus operator is charging around Rs 1400 for the journey to Bengaluru. Similarly, the air-ticket to Kochi is Rs 1593 (*subject to change) whereas luxury bus ticket rate is Rs 1130.

“One can reach Bengaluru by air in one hour and minutes. But, it would take minimum seven hours by road. Like Bengaluru, a trip to Kochi by road would take almost 8 hours while by air it takes only one hour.  So passenger who is willing to pay a bit extra would definitely prefer the flight. However, the flight rate would fluctuate and a booking done closer the time of journey would be expensive. This apart, the airline has only announced only two flights. So, it would not immediately make a big impact,” said R Ramesh, a city-based travel agent.

Meanwhile, airline sources confirmed that more airlines are planning flight operations to Bengaluru. So the competition in the air towards the same route would offer affordable flight ticket to Bengaluru route. In fact, the central government is also supportive towards the aviation sector expansion and therefore the airlines approaching for new routes like Tiruchy-Bengaluru and Tiruchy-Kochi would not face many hurdles.

However, with fuel prices touching record rate bus operators opined that they would not bring down the ticket rates. “Currently, the airline has announced only two flight (one to Kochi and other to Bengaluru). But, both are potential routes and if they decide to have more operations especially to routes like Bengaluru, our business would get affected. In the current situation, the bus operators are not in a position to reduce the ticket rate for such long-distance routes. Therefore, the air connective to these would affect us in the near future,” said R Ramalingam, a city-based luxury bus operator.

Further, if the Tiruchy International Airport (TIA) gets more operations to Bengaluru and Kochi, many luxury bus operators would also loss their franchise in the city.

On the flip side, industrial sector sees great scope  if more flights are available to Bengalurur. “The increase in the flight connectivity would affect the business of luxury bus operators. In fact, the current timing of Kochi and Bengaluru flights are very convenient for businessmen,” said Achhar Singh, honorary president, Tiruchy Intra City Development Endeavours and a member of Confederation of Indian Industry.


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