The heat is on, both in the atmosphere and in the struggling domestic airline industry. To beat the heat, airline companies are coming up with attractive summer fares.
Despite air turbine fuel prices which rose for the third time this month, some airlines are dropping their base fares to a rupee, if booked 30 days before travel. They have also offered various other cut-price offers.
State-run Air India has started summer special fares at four levels, ranging from Rs 1,891 (all inclusive) to Rs 2,901. These fares will be valid for 148 domestic sectors.
They have also extended the validity of the companion-free scheme from March 31 to September 30. Under this scheme passengers purchasing a first, executive or economy class full-fare ticket can avail complementary travel for a companion.
Go Air & Spice Jet have announced cash-back offers of up to 75 percent and 55 percent, respectively. You book the flight before April 30 and the cash-back will be credited to you within the next 30 days.
Go Air has an offer where customers can have the comfort of business class at the price of economy class.
Full service carriers like Kingfisher and Jet Airways have also dropped their base fares to Rs 200 on certain routes. That amounts to fares starting from Rs 2,071 for Jet and Rs 1,722 for JetLite.
These summer special fares are also 20 to 30 percent less than last summer's offer. The reason is slumping passenger load. Travel agents estimate the number of air travellers has dropped by around a tenth from last year.
"This year is very different from the previous years -- 43 million people flew in 2007 and 39 million people flew in 2008 and the figure is even lesser for the current year. Now, all the airlines companies are going after volume and not margin," said Nikhil Rungta, marketing head of the travel portal, Yatra.com.
The global economic slow-down and spiking ATF prices have encouraged a shift among passengers towards railways.
Airlines are trying to get these customers to return. Yatra.com has seen a rise of 15-20 percent in bookings this month, with daily sale of around 6,000-7,000 tickets, he added.
The campaigns have catchy names like 'train ke daam main plane ke mazey (enjoy a plane ride at the cost of a train ticket).'
Some international airlines like Etihad and Emirates have also introduced some attractive fares for certain routes. The expectation from all this is a higher customer ratio next month.