Airlines get fancy-free

Thanks to Air Deccan, other airlines find that it pays to drop fares

At the rate at which airlines are slashing fares, a time may soon come when Lalu Yadav's railway ministry won't matter much.

The credit for triggering this price offensive goes to Air Deccan, which commenced operations less than a year ago with two 48-seater aircraft, obtained on dry lease from the French-based aviation major ATR. Inspired by the Irish carrier Ryan Air, Air Deccan offers airfares as low as Rs 500 plus taxes on the Mumbai-Delhi sector.

While one has to book a seat three months in advance to avail of this rock-bottom fare, Air Deccan's normal fares are much lower than what passengers are used to paying for air travel on Jet Airways, Indian Airlines or Air Sahara. All this is possible on Air Deccan because it is a 'no frills airline', meaning that the airline has cut out all the add-on costs of travel and focuses on getting people from one location to another safely. Thus frills like meals, attendants and airport lounges among others have been done away with.

Instead, additional seats to carry as many extra passengers as possible, have been added. For instance, by not serving warm meals, the space occupied by the aircrafts' pantry area and inflight service trolleys is used for seating additional passengers. The best part of it is that all this is not at the cost of safety. The carrier uses the standard Airbus aircraft currently being used by Indian Airlines and Jet Airways.

Air Deccan has already taken three state-of-the-art 180-seater Airbus-320 jets on dry lease of which one has already landed.