Air India flights at Rajdhani fares? Not something new, but battle intensifies after Railways’ surge-pricing move

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New Delhi | Updated: September 10, 2016 2:04:08 PM

In a dig at Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways' recently introduced flexi-pricing scheme for Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, Air India has come out with advertisements today, stating that its spot fares are cheaper than the Rajdhani second-class AC fares.

Indian Railways has come under criticism from several quarters for implementing the surge pricing system on its premium trains.Indian Railways has come under criticism from several quarters for implementing the surge pricing system on its premium trains.

In a dig at Suresh Prabhu-led Indian Railways’ recently introduced flexi-pricing scheme for Rajdhanis and Shatabdis, Air India has come out with advertisements today, stating that its spot fares are cheaper than the Rajdhani second-class AC fares. Spot fares start four hours before the flight departure time. However, while the advertisement certainly draws attention, this is not something new from Air India’s stable.

This is the not the first time that Air India is trying to lure Rajdhani passengers. Actually, this spot fare scheme was introduced by the aviation giant in June-end this year. Back then also Air India had pitched that its fares are cheaper than that of Rajdhani. However, with the surge pricing concept coming into place for premium trains from September 9, Air India has now specifically targeted it. The scheme from Air India is available till September 30. “The current offering is commensurate to Rajdhani Express (1A) and (IIA) Fares,” says the Air India website. These are all-inclusive one-way fares, and are available on 106 flights on select domestic sectors in economy class, the website adds. Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju also tweeted an image of the advertisement.

The scheme is applicable on the following routes: Delhi-Jammu-Delhi; Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi; Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi; Delhi-Bengaluru-Delhi; Delhi-Chennai-Delhi; Delhi-Ranchi-Delhi; Delhi; Ahmedabad-Delhi; Delhi-Hyderabad-Delhi; Delhi-Bhubaneshwar-Delhi; Delhi-Goa-Delhi; Delhi-Patna -Delhi; Delhi-Raipur-Delhi; Delhi-Thiruvanthapuram-Delhi; Delhi-Guwahati-Delhi.

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Twitteratti has been lauding Air India for its move. Economist Ajit Ranade tweeted, “economics logic says last minute fares for seats going empty should be very low! @airindiain has seen the light :)”. He added, “#AirIndia you should advertise this as opposite of surge pricing! last minute super discount! @airindiain”.

Indian Railways has come under criticism from several quarters for implementing the surge pricing system on its premium trains. On its part, the Railways has strongly defended its move, calling it experimental and one that doesn’t affect the common man. According to the new “flexi fare system”, the base fare will rise 10% with every 10% of berths, sold subject to a 50% ceiling. “142 trains out of about 12500 total trains (1.1% only) and 3200 Mall Express trains (4.4% only) run by Indian Railways will be chosen for this experiment. This will affect less than 0.15 million high-end passengers out of total 23 million passengers carried by Indian Railways daily. Lower-end passengers are not affected by this experiment,” Railways has said.

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