To make flying affordable, Air India rolls out advance purchase scheme for economy class

New Delhi: Seeking to make flying affordable to the common man, national carrier Air India has rolled out an advance purchase scheme for the economy class, matching the fare with that of a 2AC train ticket price, including on key domestic destinations like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata.

The 90-day advance purchase fares (all-inclusive) starts at as low as Rs 2,865, sources said.

These advance purchase fares have already been put in the system for sale on various routes operated by Air India, they said.

As per the new scheme, a ticket price on Delhi-Mumbai route would cost Rs 2,865 while on Delhi-Bhubaneshwar the same would cost as low as Rs 3,470. Incidentally, the 2AC train ticket prices in these two sectors respectively are Rs 2,865 and Rs 3,325.

"We have brought our economy class fares on key domestic routes at the level of 2AC train fares. The idea behind rolling out such low fares is to make the flying affordable for a common man," a source said.

These fares are also in line with the government's plan to make air travel affordable for all in the draft national civil aviation policy, they said.

The scheme targets all segment of travellers, youth, students and vacationers, among others, they said. Similarly, an all inclusive Delhi-Kolkata fare would be Rs 2,885, which is also at the level of the 2AC train fare on
this route.

Under the scheme, the national carrier has pegged its fare for a Delhi-Bangalore air travel at Rs 4,015, which are also at the level of 2AC train fare for travel between the two cities.

In an effort to boost air connectivity, the civil aviation ministry has sought to put flying within the reach of the common man by capping air fares at about Rs 2,500 per flying hour under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).

It has also proposed to provide an upfront subsidy to airline operating on regional and remote routes as part of the draft civil aviation policy.

Besides, the policy has also proposed to develop no-frills airports at over 400 unused airstrips across the country at an estimated cost of around Rs 50 crore each for supporting flights to the unconnected destinations under the RCS. The suggested measures are expected to boost domestic air traffic to 300 million by 2022 from 70 million currently, as per the draft policy.

The move is likely to trigger a fare war as other domestic carriers may follow suit.

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