‘Flash sales by domestic airlines a publicity stunt’

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 27, 2014 00:15 IST

Flash air tickets witnessed almost every month indicates that domestic airlines have formed a cartel, a non-profit fliers’ body has reported to the aviation safety regulator.

The complaint filed by the Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI) on October 24 asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to conduct a probe against airlines offering tickets priced cheaper than long distance train tickets.

“We have received several complaints that it is often difficult to log into airlines’ website when flash sales are announced. And, often the low priced tickets are sold out. It seems that such initiatives generate tremendous publicity for airlines at no cost and gullible passengers are cheated in the process,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president, APAI.

This year witnessed more than a dozen flash sales offering cheap tickets across domestic airlines.

Based on the complaints, the APAI put three of its staffers to buy the low fare tickets. But the discounted tickets on most domestic routes were sold out, the complaint stated.

Prabhat Kumar, the chief of the DGCA did not respond to HT’s calls on the matter.

The APAI complaint cited a latest flash sale as a case in point. On October 22, no-frill carrier SpiceJet Airlines launched a three-day sale on select domestic routes at fares starting at Rs899.

A few hours later Jet Airways and Indigo Airlines also announced similar sales for travel over the next two months at the same price.

“Most of the times, the schemes and fares announced are identical. How can this happen unless a cartel is working to fool fliers, asked Reddy.
The APAI also questioned the DGCA on whether airlines seek permission before launching flash sales.

According to the rules, airlines are supposed to submit details of its air inventory priced under different fare buckets with the DGCA.
“If they haven’t the DGCA should have taken some action against them,” added Reddy.

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