Air India jumps on discount bandwagon

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Air-IndiaMUMBAI: Air India joined Spice Jet, IndiGo and Jet Airways to offer advance purchase discount fares for travel during the pre-summer weeks. This is the second time in a fortnight that both low-cost airlines and full service ones have offered discounts on advance buys.

Spice Jet had on Friday had announced a rerun of its 30-day advance purchase discount scheme and it was followed by IndiGo and Jet Airways announcing similar schemes later in the day. Air India matched the fares on Saturday. The fares available under these scheme are for travel only unto mid-April, after which the peak travel season begins. So these schemes are not for travellers looking forward to book their summer vacations planned in May, June.

On Saturday, a 30-day advance purchase ticket on the Mumbai-Delhi sector was for sale for Rs 4,500. The cost is marginally higher than what was on offer in the last week of January when airlines launched off-season discount scheme for the first time this year. Though it seems that there are not may takers for these 30-day advance purchase deals as it entails travel during the lean season, the last-minute tickets are sky-high to say the least.

The cheapest available airfare for Mumbai-Delhi flights departing on Monday started at Rs 10,000, which is quite high considering that February is supposed to be a lean season for travel. Though Monday flights to destinations like Mumbai, Delhi are high in demand, the fares generally rest in the range of Rs 8000 on these routes. Similarly, last minute fares on routes like Mumbai-Bangalore too stayed high at Rs 5000.

When compared with these last-minute fares, the advance purchase discount fares are highly discounted ones. This was seen to be particularly true on high-demand sectors like Mumbai-Delhi, where the last-minute fare is Rs 10,000, but the 30-day advance purchase fares stand at around Rs 4,500. The 30-day advance purchase fare on the Mumbai-Bangalore route was in the range of Rs 3,000, which was two thousand less than the last-minute fare on offer on Saturday.