Yesterday, former Union Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram shared a headline from a Times of India report, without any context, in an attempt to spread misinformation about airfares online. “A Delhi-New York economy class, one-way ticket costs 7.2 lakh”, wrote Chidambaram on Twitter, insinuating that the extraordinary fare of 7.2 lakhs is widespread.
“Is the passenger buying a ticket or is he/she leasing the aircraft?”, added Chidambaram, trying to create a narrative based on an uncommon, extraordinary fare which is not the standard fare even at this moment.
“A Delhi-New York economy class, one way ticket costs 7.2 lakh”.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) April 25, 2021
Is the passenger buying a ticket or is he/she leasing the aircraft?
A little research into current-day Delhi to NYC airfares will reveal that the average COVID-affected fare for a one-way trip is about Rs. 1.2 lakhs, which is mentioned in the TOI report.
A reasonable and rational consumer, who will compare the airfares amongst different flights with relation to flight layovers, number of stops, etc. will find economical flights in the first week of May in the 1.5. lakh range with only a single 3-4 hour layover. Therefore, any rational consumer will instead book a relatively reasonable 1.5. lakh ticket with a 3-4 hours layover, instead of a non-stop, one-way, ridiculously charged 7.2 lakh ticket.
Here are just some of the relatively reasonable airfares for a Delhi to New York flight for the 1st week of May with just one 3-4 hour layover.
It is important to note that these are exceptional times, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging throughout the world. Many complicated factors have contributed to the increased airfares, however, an airfare in the range of 7.2 lakh is a rare exception, not the rule.
According to the TOI article, the 7.2 lakh airfare only existed for the Air India flight to New York via Tokyo on Saturday, 01 May, which requires a flight change to the All Nippon Airways of Japan. This seems to be a significant factor as to why the airfare of this particular flight is extraordinarily high. Another Air India- All Nippon Airways flight from Delhi to New York via Tokyo on May 1 is similarly priced at ₹ 7,22,253, showcasing a pattern.
Therefore, it is reasonably clear that highlighting the sensational airfare of over Rs. 7 lakh was an attempt from Chidambaram to create a narrative of exorbitant prices being charged, a misleading claim.