The stage is set for another round of fare war between national transporter and national carrier with Air India (AI) planning to introduce a fare structure that will be either cheaper than AC II railway fares on certain routes or on par with it. Under the planned scheme, fare of the New Delhi-Mumbai Air India flight will be Rs 2,401 against the Rajdhani’s AC II fare of Rs 2,870. While AC-II New Delhi-Patna fare in Rajdhani is Rs 2,290, Air India will offer its Economy Class seats at Rs 2,315.
Air India’s move is aimed at poaching rail passengers annoyed by the Indian Railway’s flexi-fare, which at times goes beyond airfares. The fare, according to an AI circular, is “as pegged equivalent to Rajdhani Express” will also help the national carrier increase its occupancy.
Recently the AI offered one-way journeys in economy class on select sectors and select domestic flights of Air India/Alliance Air at Rs 849, prompting the railways to cut down its flexi-fares and tatkal fares in Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Durontos.
“We never faced such a competition as we are facing now from airlines and luxury buses. We are also taking some measures so that passengers comfort level — both in fare and travel — is unmatched,” Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu told The Pioneer when asked about controversy over flexi fare.
Under the New Year scheme, the national carrier aims to make up for seats going vacant, which, according to their study of last five
years, forms almost 70 per cent of total capacity due to higher fare slab.
Almost all the metro and important cities have been included in this new scheme which is likely to affect the Railways’ second AC class budget. Some of the cities where the AI fare will be lesser than the Indian Railways second AC fare are: Delhi-Surat, Bengaluru-Hyderabad (Rs 1,723), Kolkata-Gaya (Rs 1,310), Jaipur-Delhi (1,080), and Kolkata-Delhi (Rs 2,890) among other destinations from Delhi.
“On the occasion of Republic Day, Air India is introducing special fares. The special fares are being made available on select domestic sectors of Air India in Economy Class for purchase being made 20 days or more in advance. The sale period will be from January 6, 2017 to April 10, 2017 for a travel period between January 26, 2017 and April 30, 2017. As part of the offering the carrier would also be conducting a lucky draw on select flights of these routes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, during the travel validity period,” said an AI official.
Railways had introduced the flexi fare system in elite Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto trains on September 9, 2016. The Railways also said that similar flexi fare structure would also be introduced in new trains like Humsafar and Tejas. Passengers and some of the political parties have opposed the decision, saying it is an anti-people move.
With the flexi fare not gaining much currency among passengers, the Railways last week offered 10 per cent rebate on vacant berths after finalisation of the reservation charts, a move to facilitate last-minute passengers and ensure trains run on full capacity. The Railways also reduced tatkal quota in premier trains.
Source - Daily pioneer