At least three domestic airlines that collectively cater to more than 50% domestic fliers in the country started another discounted sale to woo travellers during the slack monsoon season of June to September.
The three-day sale started by no-frill carrier Spicejet on Wednesday was the eight national and second regional sale this year, said tour operators.
Unlike previous big discounts the latest sale offered cheap tickets on routes connecting metro cities to tier 2 towns in western India. For instance, a one-way economy class ticket on the Pune-Delhi route was available for Rs 2299 way below the normal fare of Rs. 6263. The offer also included traditional busy routes such as Mumbai-Delhi with an offer of Rs 2699 as compared to average fare of Rs 4895.
Soon after the Spicejet announcement rival budget carrier GoAir slashed their basic fare plus fuel surcharge (the fattest component of an air ticket) by 30% on 21 domestic routes for travel between June and August. While the GoAir sale was also for three days starting Thursday it offered a longer travel eligibility period of April to September.
Although travel agents said that Indigo Airlines, another no-frill carrier offered similar fares on the same route during the monsoon period, there was no official confirmation on it from the airline. Travel experts said that the sale could whip up passengers' loads during the lull monsoon period and coax leisure travellers to plan getaways. "Since the sale is targeted to passengers from tier 2 towns we could expect a section of long distance AC train travellers switching to flights," said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com, a travel portal. "Spicejet, GoAir and Indigo Airlines are offering similar discounted tickets. The full service carriers have not joined the fare war yet."
He added that fares provide very good value for money for travellers and will reduce their travel cost by approximately 30%.
Other travel portals concurred. "These offers reinforce the huge travel potential that tier 2 and 3 cities have, that currently lack proper air-connectivity. We are expecting a surge of around 30% in bookings, especially from locations such as Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kochi and Chandigarh."
While operators claimed that full service carriers such as Air India and Jet Airways could also join the price war there was no such indication till the time of going to press.