With the onset of summer, airlines are working out ways to improve passenger loads and maximise profits after a dull and placid phase that has rocked the aviation industry globally.
Legacy or full-fare carriers as well as low-cost carriers have introduced 30-days advance purchase fares that are lower than regular airfares.
State-run carrier Air India has started summer special fares at four levels ranging from Rs 1,891 (all inclusive) to Rs 2,901. These fares will be valid for 148 domestic sectors across the country.
Under the summer special fares, a Delhi-Mumbai one-way ticket would cost Rs 2,611, while the normal fare on a full fare airline would cost between Rs 5,500 and Rs 6,000.
“By offering low fares, the legacy carriers are consolidating their books while the low-cost carriers are inching close to break even,” said Kapil Kaul, chief executive officer Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.
Spice Jet and Go Air expect to break even in this financial year (2009-10).
Kaul said the airlines are doing away with excess capacity either by leasing their aircraft by rationalising routes and that is the reason why airlines, especially the full fare carriers are able to offer cheap tickets.
Low fares or 30-day advance fare scheme, analysts said, would continue till the summer schedule lasts after which airlines are expected to raise fares.
According to Mark Martin, senior consultant with consulting and advisory firm KPMG, low-cost carriers in India have increased the choice for a traveller.
“When people travelling by train can plan a journey in advance, why shouldn’t it be possible for someone planning to travel by air, and being the holiday season that is what the full-service carriers trying to cash in on,” Martin said.
Jet fuel prices are now hovering at Rs 30,000 per kilolitre — which is less than half of what it was in August last year.
Ritika Modi, regional president Uniglobe Travel, a travel solutions company, said: “In times of an economic slow down, it’s in only natural for travellers to look for cheapest fares and even full fare carriers want to corner a major share of holiday travellers, that is why we see a flurry of low fares.”