With Eid-ul-Fitr less than a week away, airfare on domestic routes has gone up disproportionately as air operators are cashing in on the surging demand for air travel to make up for their losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ticket prices of all three air operators almost doubled amid limited flight frequency.
Air operators are offering tickets for Tk8,000-9,000 for a one-way journey on all six routes, including Chattogram, Sylhet, Jashore, Saidpur, Barishal, and Rajshahi, which previously was Tk3,000.
Despite high prices, tickets are not available as air operators are operating flights on a limited scale.
For instance, US-Bangla, the largest private carrier, is operating flights at half the capacity due to restrictions from the authorities.
Moreover,they are keeping two seats emptyon each flight for emergency use if any passenger gets sick due to Covid-19.
For Eid travels, their highest ticket price is Tk9,000.
When contacted, Kamrul Islam, general manager of US-BanglaAirlines, saidthey have the capacity to operate 38 flights for a one-way journey every day on all routes but now they are running 18.
He said the airline is operating at 54% of its capacity.
"Amid this situation, home-goers' demand for air travel has surged ahead of Eid. Our ticket prices range from a minimum of Tk3,400 to a maximum of Tk9,000.Passengers buying tickets at the eleventh hour will have to pay higher prices,"he added.
Another private carrier Novoair's highest ticket price is Tk8,400while it is Tk8,800 for national carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines.
Ticket prices increased by 25% after August last year due to the rise in fuel costs, said industry insiders.
Fuel prices increased by Tk7 per litreon domestic routes since August last year, forcing air operators to increase ticket prices.
Earlier on 20 April, the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) decided to resume flight operations on domestic routes on a limited scale after a week-long suspension amid the second wave of Covid-19.
Domestic flights were suspended from 14 April for a month following the first phase of the lockdown imposed countrywide by the government in a bid to contain coronavirus infections.
Air operators saw a good turnout of passengers when flights were resumed for the second time as people preferred air travelling to avoid crowding.
Before suspending flights for the second time in April, local carriers were about to recover their losses riding on domestic flights.
The number of daily air travellers reached 8,362 in February, which was 17.22% higher than the pre-pandemic level of 7,133 in December 2019, according to Caab data.
However, the number of daily flights was still low compared to the pre-pandemic level.
In February, 132 flights were operated on domestic routes daily on average while the figure was 137 in December 2019.
The number of total domestic air travellers was 234,142 in February this year, which was 6% higher than 221,123 in December 2019.