Domestic carriers offer hefty discounts

After rising continuously for much of 2011, domestic airfares are finally coming down, with airlines offering hefty discounts.

SpiceJetSpiceJet, owned by Chennai-based Sun group, has just launched a discount scheme, offering a million seats at an all-inclusive fare of Rs2,013 for travel between February and April. The catch is that the special fare is available only for bookings – done through its website or through travel agents – between January 11 and 13.

Many consumers wanting to take advantage of the offer were, however, frustrated in their attempts on Saturday, because of the huge rush of passengers. ''Our online booking site is currently experiencing heavy traffic. Please try again later,'' was the response they got while trying to book online.

''The offer truly provides an opportunity for all air travellers to fly at such a low price,'' said Neil Mills, CEO, SpiceJet. ''The scheme offers an opportunity for travellers to fly even at lower than train fares.''

The airline made the offer a day after the government decided to hike rail fares across the board. Following the increase, the fare (for AC-I) between Mumbai and Delhi went up from around Rs2,921 to Rs3,065. Even an AC-II ticket costs Rs1,775, slightly lower than what SpiceJet is offering.

Other airlines are also planning to launch similar schemes to fill up seats during the lean season of February and March. IndiGo, the largest domestic carrier, has slashed fares to comparable levels on many important sectors. Jet Airways and Air India are also expected to come out with similar fares.