Last minute skyrocketing air fares could soon be a thing of the past. National carrier Air India (AI) has decided to match Rajdhani second AC fares on key metro routes four hours prior to departure.
The state-owned flag carrier will offer unsold seats on the key Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Bengaluru and Delhi-Kolkata sectors and vice-versa within four hours of departure at Rajdhani AC II rates.
A Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani AC II ticket costs Rs 2870 while the Delhi-Chennai ticket is priced at Rs 3905. The Delhi-Bangalore fare stands at Rs 4095 and for Delhi-Kolkata it is Rs 2890.
“Last minute or spot fares are the most expensive in India unlike the West. This is a great move. It will force other airlines to re-think their strategy. An airline seat is a perishable commodity as an empty seat is lost forever once the aircraft takes off,” said Rajji Rai former head of the Travel Agents Association of India.
The tickets, AI said, can be booked on its website or at its airport counter. “The four metros command around 50% of the combined domestic traffic. All unsold seats would be put up for sale. Today morning, we sold the 14 unsold seats on the Mumbai flight at AC II rates,” said an AI official.
“We are committed to providing flying at a low, affordable cost to last minute passengers,” said Ashwani Lohani, chairman and managing director, AI.
The aviation ministry has received several complaints, including those from Members of Parliament, on high fares and on how people booking last minute during an emergency are charged a bomb.
AI had earlier launched a scheme for Rajdhani passengers wherein AC first class passengers with unconfirmed tickets had an option to travel by air at no extra charges, subject to availability of seats. AC II passengers with unconfirmed tickets needed to pay Rs 1,500-2,000 plus their train fare.