In what could be a bonanza for domestic air travellers, Jet Airways announced a special seven-day ticket sale on Saturday. Airfares starting from Rs 1,777 will be available on seven lakh bookings made between August 3 and 9, for journey beginning on or after August 10.

According to the Jet Airways’ Web site, the discounted fares are being offered in three slabs — on sectors under 750 km, the fare will be Rs 1,777 (for example, Mumbai-Ahmedabad); for 750-1,000 km, it will be Rs 2,777 (Mumbai – Bangalore); and for over 1,000 km Rs 3,777 (Chennai-Kolkata). Of course, the passenger will also pay taxes on these tickets.

The Web site also specifies that the discounted tickets will come with advance purchase restrictions. The tickets are non-refundable and a date change will cost Rs 1,200.

Unhappy with the move, industry analysts and travel agents say Jet could afford to come up with these offers given the backing of a foreign airline with deep pockets (meaning Etihad). In April, Jet agreed to sell a 24 per cent stake to Etihad for over Rs 2,000 crore.

Commenting on Jet’s discount sale, Aditya Ghosh, President, IndiGo, said: “It seems like competition is throwing a party to celebrate our 7th anniversary tomorrow, with their 700,000 seat sale.”

An aviation analyst termed the latest Jet move as “crazy predatory pricing”.

According to Jet’s discounted rates, a one-way trip on the Mumbai-Delhi sector will cost Rs 3,500, with taxes. Typically, a ticket booked three weeks in advance on this sector costs about Rs 4,500, with the fare shooting up closer to the travel date.

July to September is a lean season for the airline sector. “Currently, the industry load factors (carrying capacity of airlines) are below 60 per cent. However, the travel period offered by Jet is beyond the lean months,” said Sanjay Bhasin, CEO, Goibibo, an online travel firm.

While other airlines are yet to announce their strategies, some are expected to come up with similar offers.

This is the second time this year that a domestic carrier is offering discounted fares for a limited period. Earlier this year, SpiceJet offered 10 lakh discounted seats for around Rs 2,000 a unit.

(This article was published on August 3, 2013)
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