The battle for the domestic skies has broken out. After a year of shrinking air travel, airlines are now removing all stops to woo travellers.

On Tuesday, Jet Airways and IndiGo slashed airfares. Jet is offering 20 lakh seats from Rs 2,250 onwards. These seats can be booked till midnight of February 24 for travel till December 31. IndiGo slashed fares on select routes by about 30 per cent. The airline, however, did not make any official announcement about the offer. But, according to industry watchers, the low-cost airline is matching the fares offered by Jet on almost all sectors.

The moves by Jet and IndiGo come just weeks after SpiceJet announced a three-day sale when it offered 10 lakh seats at an all-inclusive fare of Rs 2,013 for any domestic flight between February 1 and April 30. However, the airline could sell only 7 lakh seats.

Jet Airways is offering the 20 lakh seats on over 450 domestic flights across 57 destinations operated by it and JetKonnect.

According to sources, IndiGo has not set any number on the seats on offer, adding that the airline will monitor the situation for the next four days before deciding on its next step.

“The first day of the Jet Airways offer saw good traction,” said Noel Swain, Executive Vice-President, Supplier Relations, Cleartrip. “But whether the airline is able to sustain the demand, we will have to see. Airfares have risen by 12 per cent in the first two months of this year compared with last year. These offers are short bursts to spur demand.”

Four slabs

Jet Airways is offering the discounted tickets on four different slabs for one-way travel, based on the distance.: Up to 750 km the fare is Rs 2,250; for 750-1,000 km; Rs 2,850;. 1,000-1,400 km, Rs 3,300; and above 1,400 km, Rs 3,800. These fares are inclusive of all taxes.

In the case of IndiGo, the sources pointed out, it is time; earlier a passenger books the better his/her chances of getting a lower fare.

SpiceJet officials were not available for comment on the latest round of price cuts. But industry sources indicate that the airline is offering reduced fares, with discounts of up to 30 per cent, mainly for travel during the lean season that extends till April.

Air India silent

Air India is silent on offering lower fares.

According to industry watchers, the airline will have to take note of the price war as unlike SpiceJet and IndiGo, Jet is a full-fare airline and its cutting fares can impact Air India’s bookings.

Interestingly, this time, airline watchdog Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has not stepped in. When SpiceJet introduced its three-day sale, DGCA had asked other airlines not to join the price war.

However, the sources said, this time the DGCA has not asked the airlines to review their offers.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

Nivedita.ganguly@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 19, 2013)
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