Mumbai: State-run carrier National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, or Nacil, that operates Air India, has slashed business class fares on the India-Dubai route by 25% for one month between 15 August and 15 September, even as Mumbai-based Jet Airways (India) Ltd readies to start flying daily from Mumbai and New Delhi to Dubai from 23 August.
Travel agents expect Air India to extend reduced business class fare beyond 15 September, and 10-15% reduction in economy class fare on this route. “Emirates Airline, the second airline on this route, is also likely to lower the fares,” said a senior executive with a travel agency, who did not want to be identified.
Emirates officials were not immediately available for comment, but public relations representatives of the airline said there is no plan to lower the fare “as of now”.
The India-Dubai route is the mainstay of Emirates and Air India, with 2.5 million passengers annually and growing at 15-20% every year. This will be Jet’s 20th international and sixth West Asian destination. The Naresh Goyal-promoted carrier currently runs daily services to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Bahrain, Muscat and Doha in West Asia from various Indian cities.
Air India has slashed its return business class air fare on the Mumbai-Dubai sector to Rs33,184, including taxes, from Rs44,195. A paring of the fares was communicated to travel agents by Kailash Singh, passenger sales manager, western India, Nacil, in a circular dated 8 August. Jet has launched an introductory business class return fare, including taxes, at Rs35,238.
“Emirates’ business class return fare is Rs86,712... It will be forced to lower fares to counter competition,” said the same travel agency executive.
Jitender Bhargava, Nacil’s executive director of corporate communications, said it was about marketing, and any airline in its position would have reacted similarly. It will take a call on lowering economy class fares after looking at market dynamics, he said.
“Dubai city has traditionally been a very popular business, employment and leisure destination... I do not think the lowering of air fares (by Nacil) is prompted by our entry,” said Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, Jet’s chief executive officer.
“Apart from being an affordable destination...the affluent class also prefers to holiday in Dubai as it is just a short flight from any point in India,” said Neelu Singh, chief operating officer of online travel agency Ezeego1.com. Last?year,?Dubai?received more than 400,000 Indian tourists, Singh said. “The tourist flow is likely to go up 20% this year, and cheap air fares would definitely boost numbers.”