Mumbai: With full-service airlines making inroads into the low-fare airspace, existing budget carriers are going beyond price advantage and handing out sops to attract and keep passengers.
These carriers are either giving away gifts or offering discounts at hotels, restaurants, and retail stores against boarding passes.
Growing attraction: Passengers at the New Delhi airport. In August, domestic airlines carried 26% more passengers than in the same period last year, helped largely by cheaper fares and a reviving economy. Madhu Kapparath/Mint
Low-fare carriers such as IndiGo (run by InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd), SpiceJet Ltd, GoAir (GoAirlines (India) Pvt. Ltd) and JetLite (India) Ltd, consider this the most effective way to counter loyalty programmes that are being offered by full-service rivals.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, National Aviation Co of India Ltd (which runs Air India) and Paramount Airways Ltd are full-service carriers and run loyalty programmes that offer flying miles based on how often a passenger uses the carrier.
“Budget airlines find innovative ways in providing value adds to the customer and the customer is also happy with such offers as they feel that there is a value addition to be got while travelling with carriers that provide them with shopping vouchers,” Neelu Singh, chief operating officer of online travel agent firm, Ezeego1.com.
India’s largest low-fare carrier IndiGo has announced a 20% saving on the prepaid in-flight meal if a passenger books tickets online. In the prepaid excess baggage option, too, the airline has offered a discount of up to 25% on luggage weighing between 10kg and 25kg.
Last week, SpiceJet launched its Privilege Pass Programme that allows travellers to avail special benefits from partner hotels against a used boarding pass. Benefits range from complimentary meals worth Rs1,500 or a discount of Rs500 on their total hotel billing. The partner includes Trident Hotels, Ista Hotels, Keys Hotels, Pride Hotels, Maidens Hotels, Rain Tree Hotels, JHM Interstate and The Park.
GoAir in early September ran an offer of gifts worth Rs3,000 on tickets sold through 20 September. The gift catalogue includes men’s watches and ties, and an oval pearl jewellery set for women.
JetLite, the low-fare unit of full service Jet Airways, is also offering discounts of up to 20% on car rentals with Avis and Hertz, dining, retail stores, and Lemon Tree and Marriott International hotels.
“Low-fare carriers are trying to stimulate the market by offering add on benefits for passengers… (and) are pulling up their socks since full-service carriers are increasing their exposure to low-fare space,” said a senior executive with a Delhi-based low-fare airline. He did not want to be identified.
With the festival season already under way,?airlines are also expecting greater traffic that they wish to capitalize on, he added.
In August, domestic airlines carried 26% more passengers than in the same period last year, helped largely by cheaper fares and a gradually reviving economy, despite the fact that it is generally considered among the leanest months for traffic.
“With the introduction of these simple yet relevant services, we just upped the cool quotient of our passengers,” said Aditya Ghosh, president, IndiGo. “We see these as value adds to our customer experience. One of the three things that we stand for is a hassle free experience.”
However, he conceded that he didn’t see an immediate boost for traffic from these measures.