Even though most airlines are bleeding, Indian skies are set to witness another fare war. On Monday, SpiceJet triggered the third discount sale of the year by announcing a sharp cut in base fares for domestic flights booked between February 24 and 26. Within a few hours, IndiGo and GoAir joined the fray with similar offers.

Both SpiceJet and GoAir are offering discounts of up to 75 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively. However, the discounting is relative to last-minute fares on several routes. The scheme is open for travel between April 1 and June 30.

SpiceJet seats on the Mumbai-Delhi route will start at ₹3,410 under the offer as against the last-minute fare of ₹10,322.

Similarly, Chennai-Pune tickets are priced at ₹2,028 under the offer against the last-minute fare of ₹7,261.

As the discount is on the base fare, all applicable taxes and charges will have to be borne by the customer. The airlines have not said how many discounted tickets are on offer. All indications are that Jet Airways and Air India will also bring down their fares.

Industry reactions have been mixed. “It is a bonanza for travellers as the discounting period covers the entire summer period,” said Sharat Dhall, President of Yatra Online. He added that after the announcement, bookings to key leisure destinations such as Goa and Kerala more than doubled.

However, a senior official at a private airline described the move as suicidal. “They are just on a self-destruct mission. This means higher loads and mounting losses,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

(This article was published on February 24, 2014)
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