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Flying overseas gets comfortable and cheap amid discount war

india Updated: Nov 22, 2008 00:02 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

If you thought that flying dreams have crash-landed with cash-strapped domestic carriers sitting firmly on expensive air tickets, plan a visit abroad.

At a time when domestic carriers are cutting down flight to survive the downturn international airlines are flying down to India.

And, offering cheap tickets.

For instance, while domestic airlines saw the average load factor or occupancy dropping to 65 per cent in the holiday month of October, Sri Lankan Airlines flights carrying vacationers to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok. Colombo and Singapore from Indian cities were filled upto 85 per cent.

It is little surprising because the airline offered you a return fare at Rs. 16,000-odd (exclusive of taxes) to the postcard destinations. “Its is lean season for us so we offered cheap fare. We also got discounted rates for hotels,” said Dimuthu Tennakoon, manager western, (India).

That’s not all. Two new low cost airlines have for the first time launched operations in India this month. Budget carrier Airasia launched a daily direct flight to Tiruchirappalli from Kuala Lumpur, from December 1. Saudi Arabia-based Sama airlines has introduced three flights a week between Mumbai and Dammam.

“There are approximately 16 lakh Indian working in the Gulf who would want to travel atleast once year despite of the recession. Similarly around 14 crore Haj pilgrims come from India. We are offering a cheap travel options to them,” said Andrew Cowen, chief executive officer of the airline.

So you just spend Rs 3,000 (exclusive of taxes) for a one-way trip to Damman from Mumbai.

Flight slot allotments in Mumbai too give a clear indication of the way international operations are mushrooming. Slot for international airlines have seen a rise from 198 slots in the previous summer schedule this winter, while domestic slot have remained unchanged at 502.

Established foreign carriers are expanding too. Gulf carriers like Qatar and Emirates have added more flights. Emirates added 18 additional flights per week in July this year to various destinations taking its India operations to 132 flights per week. Qatar Airways started daily operations to the United States from nine Indian cities.

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