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Jet discounts bring soaring fares down

mumbai Updated: Sep 15, 2009 01:00 IST
Soubhik Mitra
Soubhik Mitra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Jet Airways counters at the city airport were crowded again on Monday with fliers flocking to avail the 50 per cent discount across domestic sectors promised by the carrier.

Travel agents were flooded with calls and travel portals saw heavy traffic for these deals ahead of the festive season. The airline declared a 50 per cent discount on Sunday to lure clients inconvenienced by a week-long deadlock between its management and pilots.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued a warning to all airlines on Thursday not to charge exorbitant fares, but that did not help passengers.

However, Jet’s offer seemed to have benefited regular travellers.

Fares dropped across airlines on Monday including those for airlines that had hiked ticket prices to exploit the Jet crisis.

Full fare carriers, which were charging up to Rs 17,500 for an economy class ticket from Mumbai to Delhi, reduced fares to the Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000 range.

With discounts, the cost of air tickets dropped close to air-conditioned II tier Rajdhani Express fares.

“It is a steal,” said call centre employee Gaurish Deshpande (26). “I got a Mumbai-Delhi ticket for Rs 2,907.”

“The response was beyond our expectations,” said a Jet spokesperson. He refused to reveal the number of bookings but claimed that the airline expected to recover its market share by Wednesday.

Jet Airways, along with its low-cost subsidiary Jetlite, holds a 26.4 per cent share in the domestic aviation industry.

Airport officials said check-in queues moved from budget airlines to Jet Airways counters. Early birds, however, missed out on the benefits. Lokesh Dahiya (37), who rushed to the airport in the wee hours of Monday, was disappointed. The new discounted ticket inventory was uploaded around 4.30 am, just after he had bought his ticket.

“We witnessed a 10 per cent switch from low-cost carriers [to Jet],” said Anup Kanuga, chairman (western region), Travel Agents Association of India. “Why would people fly low-cost airlines if they are getting tickets for a full service carrier at the same cost?”

HC to pursue contempt petition against pilots

The management of Jet Airways and the airline’s pilots may have reached an amicable compromise but the Bombay High Court does not consider the matter settled because of the inconvenience caused to passengers and the violation of the Chief Justice’s order.

The HC, on Monday, refused to allow the airline to withdraw the contempt petition filed against its pilots saying it will not overlook the inconvenience the weeklong stir caused to passengers and the pilots’ violating Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar’s order to resume work.

The airline informed the court that it wanted to withdraw the contempt petition it had filed against the pilots since the issue had been resolved amicably.

However, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the court would pursue the contempt proceedings initiated by the airline management and issued a show-cause notice to the National Avia-tors’ Guild — the pilots’ union that had spearheaded the stir.

The airline had moved the HC on September 8 seeking to restrain pilots terming their act as illegal when the pilots went on mass sick leave.

The division bench headed by the Chief Justice, in an interim order passed on September 8, had directed the agitating pilots to resume duty. However, when they did not comply with the order, the airline moved the court of Justice Chandrachud, alleging contempt of court.

The pilots’ union is yet to file its reply. The court has, therefore, issued a notice asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against the pilots and has sought a response by October 5.