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AI to cut rates for last-minute passengers

With the move, the airline is also hoping to improve its seat occupancy rate.

With the move, the airline is also hoping to improve its seat occupancy rate.  

Air India will offer a heavy discounts to passengers booking a domestic flight for last-minute travel, the national carrier said on Friday.

The decision was taken at a review meeting at the airline’s headquarters here. Air India said travellers buying a ticket within three hours of departure could benefit from its offer.

“The last-minute traveller... is often faced with very high ticket prices… The national carrier has, therefore, decided that for the domestic sector, the ‘very last moment inventory’, i.e., the seats available within three hours of departure, would be sold at a hefty discount,” according to a statement. The airline’s spokesperson, Dhananjay Kumar, said the discount could be 40% on the cost of tickets normally available in that time period.

By sweetening the deal for last-minute travellers, the airline is also hoping to sell the seats that otherwise go empty and improve its seat occupancy rate or passenger load factor (PLF). Air India’s PLF is usually the lowest among all domestic carriers.

In March, according to DGCA data, Air India was able to sell only 80.8% seats across its flights, while SpiceJet was able to sell 93% seats, Go Air 91.4%, Air Asia 87.5%, Vistara 86.8%, Jet Airways 86.7% and IndiGo 86%.

Competitors in the market are unlikely to be happy with Air India’s decision.

A senior airline official who spoke on the condition of anonymity called it a “knee-jerk reaction” to criticism of high fares. The government had recently appealed to airlines to not hike airfares after the grounding of Jet Airways led to a spike in ticket prices due to a shortfall in capacity.

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