New Delhi: For price conscious Indian travellers, international air travel is becoming more affordable. Iceland’s long-haul budget airline Wow Air on Tuesday announced its entry into the Indian market offering ultra low fares for services from New Delhi to North America and Europe.

Wow Air founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Skuli Mogensen said at a press conference that the company which picked New Delhi as the first city to start service in Asia is offering a one-way economy class fare from India’s capital to destinations like Iceland, US, Canada and London starting from Rs13,499 inclusive of taxes.

But the fare does not include meals or facility to check in baggage, for which there will be a minor extra fee. Business class fare to these destinations are priced at Rs46,599 onwards, said Mogensen.

Experts said low fares will help in expansion of the air travel market size.

“Competitive pricing will definitely boost air traffic. However, keeping operational costs low on a sustainable basis, is a challenge," said Kinjal Shah, vice-president, corporate ratings at rating agency Icra. Internationally, in some countries, short haul budget airlines get access to separate airports with lower levies and taxes, that help them maintain the cost advantage, said Shah.

Wow’s launch of India operations coincides with efforts of the union and state governments to make air travel more affordable and accessible to all by developing more airports and waiving off taxes, airport charges and other levies and under the regional connectivity scheme.

The NextGen Airports for Bharat (NABH) Nirman scheme announced in 2018-19 budget seeks to step up aviation capacity significantly to serve one billion passenger trips a year.

Although airport capacity at present allows 334 million passengers a year against a demand of about 265 million passengers recorded in 2016-17, airports in metros like Delhi and Mumbai are saturated.

Wow Air will have five direct flights a week between New Delhi and Keflavik airport in Iceland that will connect to several destinations in North America and Europe using Airbus A330neo aircraft, starting 7 December. “Wow Air also plans to add more flights to India as the country strongly moves ahead to become the world’s third largest tourism economy in the next ten years," said Mogensen. The company hopes to leverage fuel economy of its new fleet to keep operational costs low.

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