Buoyed by Covid vaccine rollout, airlines offer massive discounts to woo back flyers
Vaccine rollout and cheap fares are expected to lead to a substantial increase in air travel demand by summer this year
With India getting ready to roll out the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination drive, airlines are already planning to do a brisk business in the post-Covid times. There are several tempting offers for the flyers with great discounts and offers for the kids too.
“Adults who book their next flight to Abu Dhabi or Dubai with Etihad can take their children for free. With every adult ticket booked before January 28, 2021, for travel until September 30, 2021, up to two children can travel (for) free. So two adults can bring four children, free... The sale ends on January 28, 2021, at etihad.com. Offer valid for children up to 11-years-old,” UAE’s Etihad said in a statement.
The all-inclusive return fare from Delhi and Mumbai to Abu Dhabi/Dubai are Rs 16,477 and Rs 13,155 respectively, the airline said.
Meanwhile, for domestic flyers, there are several offers up for grabs. IndiGo has a five-day sale (January 13-17) offering all-inclusive fares on domestic flights starting at Rs 877. The sale is valid on travel from April 1 to September 30, 2021.
IndiGo Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer Sanjay Kumar said, “We are hopeful to see customers booking the seats on offer, with fares starting at Rs 877. Customer confidence in air travel has strengthened over the last few months, as it is the safest mode of transport. The advent of the vaccination has further improved the sentiment, with people looking at travelling within the country this year. This sale will help them plan domestic travel in advance and at affordable fares.”
SpiceJet is also offering a complimentary flight voucher worth the base fare of the booked flight with a maximum value of Rs 1,000 for each passenger per flight on booking the sale fare.
The voucher, which can be used for future ticket bookings, will be issued and emailed to the registered e-mail ID of the customer within 48-72 hours post the end of the sale. While the flight voucher will be valid till February 28, 2021, it can be redeemed for making fresh bookings with a minimum transaction amount of Rs 5,500 for travel between April 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021. The voucher will be applicable only on domestic flight bookings made via the official website.
The five-day sale launched on Friday (January 15) will be open till midnight of January 17 for travel between April 1 and September 30, 2021.
Some of the popular routes available for the starting sale fare of Rs 899 (all-inclusive) include Jammu-Srinagar, Srinagar-Jammu, Bengaluru-Chennai, Chennai-Bengaluru, Hyderabad-Belagavi, Belagavi-Hyderabad, Ahmedabad-Jaisalmer and Jaisalmer-Ahmedabad among others.
“This New Year brings in new hopes and newer possibilities for everyone. Like everybody else, we have made a new resolution too, to offer our passengers a worry-free and joyful travel experience. With domestic leisure travel seeing a new high, we wish to top up the domestic travel experiences with unforgettable ticket prices and many more delightful benefits. So let’s begin this New Year on a high note,” said Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Commercial Officer, SpiceJet.
“Airfare data for the first two weeks of January show that there has been a 15-20% month-on-month decline in average airfares across key domestic routes. Vaccine rollout and cheap fares will lead to a substantial increase in demand to travel by summer this year, making this the ideal time for travellers to plan their trips in advance. With major airlines like Indigo, SpiceJet and Vistara running heavy sales, this is a good time for travellers to avail the best prices for their upcoming trips,” Travel portal ixigo founder-CEO Aloke Bajpai told The Times of India.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that a record 2.73 lakh passengers flew across India on January 10, setting a new high since domestic flights resumed in May last year after a two-month gap.
"2,73,845 passengers on 2,179 flights yesterday is a new high since domestic flights resumed on 25 May 2020. This takes us even closer to the pre-Covid numbers. Flying has emerged as the chosen mode of transport which offers efficiency, safety and predictability," he tweeted.
According to the latest figures tweeted by Puri, there were 2,23,457 passengers on 2,187 flights on January 14, 2021. There were 4,375 flight movements and an airport footfall of 4,47,510.
Domestic air travel was banned in India from March 25 to May 24 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The operations started in a graded manner, with a permitted capacity of only 33% after factoring in social distancing norms. However, according to a Business Today report in June, the airlines were operating at only 25% capacity.
The government raised the capacity limit to 45% by the end of June and to 60% in September. As domestic traffic surged, the government in November permitted airlines to hike capacity to 70%. Then in December, the government allowed airlines to operate 80% of pre-Covid flights. This meant that scheduled domestic airlines in India were able to sell seats up to 80% of their aircraft’s capacity.
Scheduled commercial international passenger flights, however, continue to be suspended in India, and the only international travel is in the form of Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) and air bubble agreement flights.