Friday, August 13, 2021

Book domestic flights in advance at lower rates as no fare caps for flights sold beyond 30 days

New Delhi: Domestic airfares may have been hiked by up to 13% but travellers can purchase tickets in advance for travel beyond 30 days at lower fares.

The Jyotiraditya Scindia-headed aviation ministry has amended the pandemic-time fare cap scheme in force since last May by allowing airlines to sell domestic flights beyond 30 dates without charging the range (lowest and highest) of fare levels set by the government.

This means, people booking in advance — though that remains fraught with uncertainty during the constantly changing pandemic situation — can book at really low rates.

For instance, a low cost airlines shows one-way fare on Delhi-Mumbai starting at Rs 5,325 (all inclusive) for tickets booked within 30 days of travel date. But fares for travel beyond 30 days started at less than half — Rs 2,456 (all inclusive).

While there remains uncertainty about travel in the ever-evolving pandemic times, Scindia's move to amend the fare cap policy by exempting tickets sold for domestic travel beyond 30 days will allow airlines to offer low fares and let people book low fares.

This model — book early, pay less — has been bedrock of Indian aviation since 2005 when low cost airlines made their debut here with Air Deccan and helped increase number of flyers severalfold.

ICRA VP Kinjal Shah the higher domestic fare caps effective from Thursday “are applicable for tickets booked for travel in the next 30 days of the date of booking. Any booking done for travel outside the 30-day window from the date of booking is not controlled by fare bands. This increase will allow airlines to partly offset the impact of increased aviation turbine fuel prices, thereby cushioning some impact on their losses.”

For airlines, it means building up advance sales and get precious cash to sustain operations. However, aviation insiders say people must look at track record of airlines at giving refunds in case flights are cancelled due to reasons like changed rules or new restrictions during Covid.

13/08/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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