NEW DELHI, 31 May-2014, TNN: Living up to its promise of ‘Nano’ fares, AirAsia India Pvt Ltd (AAIPL) began sale of its tickets on Friday night by making available 15,000 tickets with a base fare of Rs 5 (excluding airport taxes and other fees). The airline begins operations with flights from Bangalore to Chennai and Goa on June 12.
“The promotional seats at base fare of Rs 5 (excluding airport tax and other applicable fees) are available on flights from Bangalore to Chennai, Chennai to Bangalore, Bangalore to Goa and Goa to Bangalore. Guests will be able to start their booking on www.airasia.com at 21:30 IST on May 30 – June 1, 2014, for the travel period from June 12 -October 25, 2014,” an airline statement said.
AAIPL CEO Mittu Chandilya said, “I’ve promised that AirAsia India will make quality travel affordable to all and that we will revolutionize the Indian aviation sector. In keeping with that promise, I am excited to be able to celebrate the launch of the AirAsia India experience with a surprise promotion. The goal is to enable guests who have never flown to take this opportunity to come and experience flying the AirAsia way.”
The launch of this low-cost carrier has unleashed a fresh fare war in Indian skies. With Chandilya announcing earlier this month that his fares will be 35% lower than current levels, a fare war began on Thursday evening itself.
Once it was known AAIPL will launch flights from Bangalore to Chennai and Goa, SpiceJet lowered fares on these sectors from June 12 — the day AirAsia India begins flying. SpiceJet announced “special promotional fare” of Rs 1,499 on these routes.
The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) anticipates another round of blood bath in the sector. “AirAsia may have underestimated the capacity of Indian carriers to pursue irrational pricing. The incumbents have shown a regular tendency to discount heavily to generate cash, gain market share, fill excess capacity or simply to respond to competition. This is also a market in which full service carriers offer fares similar to LCCs, and sometimes lower. Airlines continue to price below cost despite their huge accumulated losses and weak balance sheets. It is very difficult to operate in a market in which your competitors seem to have an almost insatiable appetite to lose money. Over the last seven years, Indian carriers have lost a combined $10.1 billion, or an average of $22 every time a passenger boards an aircraft,” a CAPA report says.
Meanwhile, AirAsia India has scored a high five when it comes to getting an airline code. AirAsia India Pvt Ltd (AAIPL) has got ‘I5’ as its airline code and becomes the only Indian carrier to have a smart code apart from IndiGo which has ‘6E’ — to rhyme with ‘sexy’ — as its code.
GoAir’s G8 is closer to great, if stretched a bit. All other Indian airlines have either abbreviations of their names or random codes. Air India has AI code. Jet Airways, JetKonnect and SpiceJet have 9W, S2 and SG as their rather unimaginative codes.