• Will good times continue for the Indian flier?

    That the Indian flier is price-conscious is clear from the rapid growth of low cost carriers (LCCs) in the domestic skies. Over the years, LCCs such as IndiGo Airlines, SpiceJet and GoAir gained market share rapidly at the expense of the full service carriers (FSCs) — more than 60 per cent of passengers in the country now fly with LCCs. Also, except Vistara, the new carriers in the Indian skies are all LCCs. Why, even the FSCs such as Jet Airways and Air India often price their economy class tickets around levels similar to those of LCCs. Low fares have invariably attracted the Indian flier, a case in point being the ongoing rapid growth in passenger traffic.
    Data from the listed airlines — Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo — shows that ticket fares came down quite a bit last year. For the nine months ending December 2015, the average fare on these airlines fell about 8-14 per cent year-on-year. This is despite the carriers retaining a good part of their fuel cost cut benefit. Many airlines, especially LCCs, have been coming up with flash sales. If you are lucky to get these limited tickets, you could fly quite cheap.

    Besides, carriers have been introducing special schemes to attract fliers. Not surprising, given the increasing competition; 10 airlines (5 old and 5 new) now jostle for passenger patronage. Jet Airways, for instance, lets you lock in rates for 72 hours, giving time to finalise travel plans. This flexibility costs ?350 on domestic flights and ?700 on international ones. IndiGo lets you cancel or change your booking any number of times, select a seat, and get a meal for an extra ?1,500. SpiceJet, for ?299, guarantees you a flight in 24 hours in case of delays, cancellations or missed flights.

    Some airlines offer discounts to customers who book tickets on their mobile platforms and apps. Airlines have also been using ‘fare unbundling’ to good effect to let passengers pick and choose services they want. 

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