SpiceJet, Indigo launch discount schemes, flight bookings at travel portals soar

Written by Rhik Kundu | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 15 2014, 04:06am hrs
SpiceJetAirfare war launched by SpiceJet, Indigo and joined by Jet Airways and Air India has enthused flyers. PTI
Online travel portals have registered over 30% increase in flight bookings since the recent announcement by airlines like SpiceJet Ltd, Indigo, Jet Airways and Air India to roll out discounted airfares under the advance booking scheme, for a limited period of time.

We have seen an increase of over 30% on the total number of domestic bookings, as compared to a normal period, said Neelu Singh, COO of Ezeego1.com.

"The metro routes have seen maximum traction, followed closely by other routes that lead to popular tourist destinations such as Cochin, Jaipur and Ladakh, Singh added.

The standalone figures for the number of tickets sold by the travel portal, under the discounted scheme, was not available.

Low cost carriers Spice Jet and Indigo had announce discounted fares on advance purchase of tickets for domestic sectors, on March 11, the fourth such discount in the last three months, which eventually lead to other carriers following the suit.

The discounts by the airlines were between 15-35% off on the air fare, and could be availed for tickets booked between April 1 and September 30, though the bookings would have to be made between March 11 and 16.

A day later, on March 12, state-owned Air India and Benares Goyal-controlled Jet Airways, entered the fare wars by announcing similar discounts under the advance booking scheme.

The bookings have already surged by 35 % since the flash sale (on March 11), said a spokesperson of Internet-based travel website company Expedia.

"At Expedia the typical customer is either a holiday maker or travelers from SME segment, and we have seen a surge of about 25-30% (in this segment), the Expedia spokesperson said, adding, This year has already season four flash sales and the top destinations that have seen max traffic include all metros and leading leisure destinations like Goa, Srinagar and Leh, especially for people connecting out of Delhi.

Apart from the popular holiday destinations, and top metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai, others like Bangalore Kolkata, and Chennai are also seeing increasing number of bookings post the announcement of the discounted airfare schemes.

Rajesh Magow, Co-founder of MakeMyTrip, notes that the recent price wars have also helped bring many customers online for the very first time.

"Discounts on 30-90 day advance bookings benefit travelers with a longer booking horizon and we can see that the maximum savings are available on long-haul routes, he added.

Recently, a report by Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said that Indian carriers lost $1.65 billion on revenue of $ 9.5 billion in FY13, while 40% of the annual loss was generated in fourth quarter (January-March 2013) period itself.

The fourth quarter is generally considered the weakest in the year, according to industry experts, when airlines often struggle to fill up its seats.

"We have seen over a 300% rise in bookings with every offer and this time seems to be no different, said Sharat Dhall, president of travel portal yatra, adding, We anticipate this to be the last of the flash sales (for the year).

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