Three airlines have announced 50 per cent discount on their ticket prices to lure air passengers during the ongoing lean season.

To counter low load factor during this time, airlines are at present charging sky-high fares for passengers who are buying spot tickets and the fresh offers from the airline will help passengers who will book now but will fly after at least a month.

National carrier Air India, on Tuesday, joined budget airlines SpiceJet and IndiGo in offering up to 50 per cent discount on fares in the domestic sector fuelling competition. Other airlines such as Jet Airways and Go Air are expected to follow.

Full service carrier Air India, which offers meals on board, came out possibly with the best offer called “Spring Sell” to out-bid the low cost rivals.

“The USP of the scheme is that fares under the scheme are inclusive of applicable taxes and start as low as Rs.1,357,” Air India said.

“Spring Sale” starts from January 22 continue till mid-night of January 24 for travel between February 21 and April 15.

Air India’s fare on the Agartala-Kolkata sector would be as low as Rs.1,385. Between Delhi and Mumbai, it will be Rs.2,830, and for Delhi-Ahmedabad it will be just Rs.2,292, the airline said.

On Tuesday, SpiceJet launched a three-day “super sale” offering tickets at 50 per cent discount on its base fares and fuel surcharge. The discounted fares will be applicable for tickets purchased between January 21 and 23, the airline said.

The sale is valid for travel up to April 15, and the discount would be applicable for only those flights where the booking is done at a minimum 30 days prior to travel. Passengers will have to bear all applicable taxes.

To counter SpiceJet’s offer, IndiGo came out with an exactly similar offer. IndiGo is the biggest airline by market share.

For both budget airlines, the discounts are available on all direct flights on their network.

Connecting and via flights will not feature in discounted sale. Seats are subject to availability. Discounted tickets are not available for infant or group bookings (10 passengers or more travelling together), the airlines said.

As per SpiceJet’s offer, a Delhi to Mumbai ticket would cost Rs.2,830; Bangalore to Mumbai is priced at Rs.1,902; Kolkota to Chennai ticket would cost Rs.2,565; and Chennai to Port Blair is available at Rs.2,302.

Last year, during the same period, SpiceJet had announced the sale of 10 lakh tickets at a price of Rs.2,013 a ticket which had evoked unprecedented response.

This year, the airline officials are hopeful of realising more yield as well as dealing with low occupancy factor during the lean season.

Commenting on the discounted offer, Amber Dubey, Partner and head-Aerospace and Defence at global consultancy KPMG, said: “It’s a limited period discount offer that will help stimulate demand in a lean quarter. It will help generate cash for the airline.

“The seats on offer are chosen carefully without compromising flights with high demand. This also helps widen the narrow flyer-base of the country. So, overall, it’s a good move. The only losers are other airlines who have to match fares.”

Very low demand

“The demand for air travel is very low now, and airlines want to fill the empty seats through these offers. It is better to make some money through these schemes rather than fly empty seats. It will not affect the finances of airlines rather they will see an improvement in their revenue collection.

“My estimate is that seat load factor will increase by 15 to 20 per cent,” said aviation and hospitality sector expert Ankur Bhatia of the Bird Group.

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