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Harried Flyers Get Major Relief, Air Fares Plunge Over 50%

Flyers who have been paying through their nose for tickets are in for a big relief with top airlines, including state-run Air India, today slashing fares by as much as 50 per cent for a limited time to tide over the traditionally weak demand in January-March period.

The move was triggered by budget carrier SpiceJet earlier in the day, but was soon copied by Air India, and others. The national carrier is offering fares as low as Rs 1,357, which is up to 70 per cent discount, on certain routes.

According to travel agents, two more no-frills carriers - IndiGo and GoAir - followed suit, offering up to 50 per cent discounts.

Currently, spot fares for a one-way Mumbai-Delhi trip is upwards of Rs 10,000, while a one-way Delhi-Goa ticket comes at about Rs 6,000. With these special fares, travellers can save more than 50 per cent on each trip.

Air India termed its discount offer as 'Spring Sale' under which it is selling tickets from tomorrow through the midnight of January 24 for travel between February 21 and April 15 across sectors, AI said in a late evening statement.

The fares will cover all domestic sectors of the Air India network and can be booked both on and offline.

The scheme is inclusive of taxes and offers rates as low as Rs 1,357, it said, adding the fare on the Agartala-Kolkata route will be as low as Rs 1,385, while for Delhi and Mumbai it will be Rs 2,830.

SpiceJet effected a steep 50 per cent cut on base fares and fuel surcharges across sectors for travel 30 days ahead of booking.

Soon IndiGo and GoAir came out with similar offers, said travel agents. However, officials of these two airlines were not available for confirmation.

"This kind of limited period off-season sale is a routine practise in the airline industry across the world and is part of tactical inventory management to help airlines fill seats that would otherwise go empty. It is revenue-positive for the airline," a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

The offer is valid for a three-day period starting today, the Chennai-based airline said, adding the special offer will end on January 23 midnight.

"IndiGo and GoAir too have come out with similar offers," a travel agent said.

The move is being seen as an attempt by carriers to mop up funds for the March quarter, traditionally a weak period both from demand and revenue points of view.

"SpiceJet and IndiGo slashing airfares is an attempt to garner early bookings for the coming summer season," travel portal Yatra.Com President Sharat Dhall said.

Travellers are finally getting a respite from the high airfares and will take advantage of these great prices to book their holidays in advance, he said.

Under the offer, SpiceJet is keeping fares as low as Rs 3,579 for the Mumbai-Delhi route where the spot fares are as high as Rs 10,098, while a Delhi-Goa ticket comes at Rs 3,355 where the spot-fare is about Rs 6,000 now.

Yatra.Com said it has seen a 250 per cent rise in bookings within hours of the prices being slashed. The website expects this to go up further as word about the offer spreads.

Commenting on the development, another travel portal MakeMyTrip said, "SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir have announced sales on 30-60 day advance purchase window. We have seen a very good response."

The portal's co-founder and Chief Executive Rajesh Magow said, "After success with similar promotions last year, airlines seem to have hit on a winning formula to energise the sector.

"Thus, airlines are able to drive purchases further out, improve forward-loads and yields by incentivising earlier purchases and gain yield predictability by filling up seats in advance."

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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