Air India is offering tickets at the price of Rajdhani! Yes, the state-run airline has come up with yet another offer that compares fares with that of Rajdhani AC-2nd class travel. This time the advantage is that you can book your tickets 20 days in advance, as opposed to the 4-hour window announced by Air India last time. The ‘Republic Day’ special offer of Air India starts from January 6 and will go on for a three-month period. You can now travel from various cities (see list below) at fares ranging from Rs 1080 to Rs 4730.
These special fares will be available for sale through all distribution channels – Airlines City Booking Office (CTOs), Airline Airport Office (ATOs), Travel Agents, Call Centre, Air India’s website and Mobile Application for sale, 20 days or more prior to departure of the flight. The sale period of the offer is from January 6 to April 10 (both days included) and the travel period that it covers is from January 26 to April 30 (both days included).
The ‘Republic Day’ scheme is applicable on the following routes: Delhi-Jammu, Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Raipur, Delhi-Ranchi, Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Bhubaneswar, Delhi-Kolkata, Delhi-Goa, Delhi-Bengaluru, Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram, Delhi-Guwahati, Delhi-Lucknow, Delhi-Gaya, Gaya-Kolkata, Hyderabad-Bengaluru, Delhi-Nagpur, Delhi-Bhopal, Delhi-Vijayawada, Delhi-Vadodara, Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Surat, Jammu-Delhi, Ahmedabad-Delhi, Patna-Delhi, Raipur-Delhi, Ranchi-Delhi, Mumbai-Delhi, Hyderabad-Delhi, Bhubaneswar-Delhi, Kolkata-Delhi, Goa-Delhi, Bengaluru-Delhi, Chennai-Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi, Guwahati-Delhi, Lucknow-Delhi, Gaya-Delhi, Kolkata-Gaya, Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Nagpur-Delhi, Bhopal-Delhi, Vijayawada-Delhi, Vadodara-Delhi, Jaipur-Delhi, Surat-Delhi.
According to Dhananjay Kumar, Senior Manager for Corporate Communications at Air India, the airline is looking to take advantage of the surge in rail ticket prices post Indian Railways introducing flexi-fares in Rajdhanis, Shatabdis and Durontos. “Train ticket prices have really gone up after flexi-fares and the travel still takes a lot of time compared to a flight. With this scheme, we are telling people that you can travel faster at the same rate with the help of Air India’s flights,” Kumar told FE Online.
According to Kumar, Air India as part of the ‘Republic Day’ offer would also be conducting a “Lucky Draw” on select flights of the routes given above on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, during the travel validity period.
This is not the first time that Air India has pitched its domestic flight rates as cheaper than Rajdhani Express. Soon after Indian Railways introduced the concept of flexi-pricing in September last year, Air India had come out with a spot fare scheme. Under the flexi-fares concept, Railways could charge up to 50% above the base fare, depending on the demand for tickets.
Indian Railways has come under criticism from several quarters for implementing the surge pricing system on its premium trains. To stem some of the flak coming its way and to attract last minute passengers, Indian Railways recently announced that it would offer a 10% rebate on vacant berths after finalisation of the reservation charts. The latest offer from Air India is bound to cause further pain to Railways, especially given the time that people save in a flight.