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Click & fly gaining ground

Indians are going online with a vengeance to buy air tickets, writes Chanchal Pal Chauhan.

india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 02:44 IST

Indians are going online with a vengeance to buy air tickets. So much so that 29 per cent of all air bookings are now done on the net. This number is likely to rise to 46 per cent within a year, according to a survey by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI).

Better deals and the option of comparing fares across airlines are the drivers. Airlines are gung-ho too as this cuts out agents and their commissions, and overhead costs.

Youngsters are fuelling the trend, with the survey showing that 77 per cent of those booking tickets online are in the 18-35 year age group. At least half of these young users book tickets online regularly. The medium’s ease of use, says the survey, may even help boost air traffic.

Presently, 60 million national and international air tickets are sold in India across all platforms.

The main beneficiaries of the trend are different airlines. Offers like Re 1 tickets for Air Deccan, Rs 99 for SpiceJet and free tickets on GoAir, keep travellers glued to their terminals.

Air Deccan spokesperson Vijaya Menon said: “Our online bookings have risen to 45 per cent since we started three years ago. Half of our turnover is linked to online sales.”

Airlines are pleased about the savings of five per cent per sale on each overhead cost — sales staff, call centres, travel operators. “Whenever we announce special offers, the traffic crashes our servers. At times, we receive over three lakh hits within an hour of opening the fare fest,” said a Spicejet spokesperson.

Next on the anvil is booking on mobile phones. IMAI says that will raise the number of people who e-book by 50 per cent.