Flying to Gulf turns cheaper by Rs 3,000 for Kerala passengers

Kochi: With more international airlines charting Kochi on their navigation maps, flying to the Gulf, especially to the Dubai sector, has become cheaper by around Rs 3,000 for Kerala passengers.

The rates are likely to slide further down in the coming months with at least three more airlines revving up for a take-off to Kochi. The trend has even forced a conservative Air-India to re-look into their fare structure to retain their supremacy in the Kerala-Gulf corridor.

Though many agents were selling tickets cheaper than the rates on record by compromising on their commission, the competition surfaced this week after Qatar Airlines announced its inaugural offer. Aviation sources say Qatar is offering Rs 8,000 for travelling one-way from Kochi to Dubai.

First to bite the bait was Oman Air, which immediately lowered its fare to Rs 9,500 from Rs 10,600. The sources add that the airline may further reduce it by Rs 1,500 to match the Qatar competition.

A further reduction by another 10-12 per cent by all airlines is also likely as the industry is expecting Sri Lankan Airlines, which will commence its Nedumbassery operations by mid-April 2003, to announce a lower fare to mark its launch.