Mumbai: The economic slowdown that is emptying seats on aircraft now has international carriers operating in India launch promotional offers riding on cheaper tickets.
British Airways Plc., Singapore Airlines Ltd, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, Emirate Airlines and SriLankan Airlines are some global airline firms that have reduced fares to woo back travellers.
Not be left behind, domestic carriers with international flights such as Jet Airways (India) Ltd and Kingfisher Airlines Ltd have also jumped on the fare-cut bandwagon.
Promotional move: A British Airways jet at Heathrow International Airport. Between 2 March and 22 March, the carrier is offering a promotional return fare to London of Rs9,990, excluding taxes and surcharges. Suzanne Plunkett / Bloomberg
“The idea behind airlines offering low fares is simply because of low load factors. It is the same old practice to woo passengers,” said Deep Kalra, chief executive and founder, MakeMyTrip (India) Pvt. Ltd, an online travel agency. He, however, pointed out that the inventory of such promotional fares will be limited.
Limited period promotions work well for airlines since it allows them to quickly return to previous ticket prices once demand picks up. Also, to promote direct booking and avoid having to pay commissions to travel agents, airlines are offering discounts of up to Rs2,000 on each ticket booked on their websites.
According to the industry lobby group International Air Travel Association, passenger demand worldwide fell by 5.6% in January compared with December.
“Airlines are having bad times in terms of seat occupancy factor. Therefore, passengers are certainly getting these fares, especially during non-peak time,” said Regi Philip, who runs Cosmos Agencies, a Mumbai-based travel agency.
British Airways is offering between 2 March and 22 March a promotional return fare to London of Rs9,990, down from Rs24,000, excluding taxes and surcharges, from New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Taxes and surcharges typically total to about Rs20,000.
“India is an important market for us and we will continue to provide our customers excellent value for money,” said Amanda Amo, British Airways’ area commercial manager for South Asia.
It was not the first one to make a promotional move. Jet Airways is offering a special return fare of Rs11,900 to London from Indian cities. The Indian carrier had last week announced special deals for March with Emirate Airlines to travel to London via Dubai.
Singapore Airlines, which has been boycotted by Indian travel agents for not agreeing to pay 5% commission on tickets sold, has also announced an all-inclusive fare of Rs21,005, which works out to discounts ranging from 25% to 50%, valid through April 15.
For Rs1,000 more, customers can choose to fly to Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Also on offer are special, all-inclusive fares ranging from Rs42,750-43,460 to Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. The all-inclusive price to Los Angeles and San Francisco is Rs55,045.
Cathay Pacific is offering an all-inclusive Mumbai-Bangkok-Mumbai passage for Rs13,000. SriLankan Airlines is offering a Destination Sri Lanka package, valid through 1 May, with a starting fare of Rs19,599 plus taxes for two days and three nights, where the nominal charge for the second person is Re1.
Abu Dhabi-based Etihaad Airways has a Rs5,999 plus taxes fare to London and other European sectors from India.