Pay the fare for Bagdogra and fly to Bangkok as a new holiday season begins.
The average return fare for Calcutta-Bangkok has dropped from the range of Rs 17,000-Rs 20,000 in July to Rs 10,000-Rs 13,000 for journeys from September.
SpiceJet is offering an introductory return fare of Rs 6,000 from September 25. The offer may not have triggered a war in the skies yet but it has dragged down fares across the sector.
A return ticket for Calcutta-Bagdogra costs between Rs 9,000 and Rs 11,000 on an average, about the same as what airlines might charge for Calcutta-Bangkok as the competition heats up.
Calcutta-Bangkok fares had shot up after Jet Airways withdrew its flights in April and AirAsia too pulled out the same month. That reduced the number of seats on the Calcutta-Bangkok route from 1,120 daily to about 500.
The introduction of two flights by budget carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet has since dragged down fares again for the most-travelled international route from Calcutta. These two flights will take the number of daily seats on offer to around 900.
“On an average, 800 seats are sold every day. So, there will be a surplus except on the festival days when passenger movement is usually very high. This will bring down fares significantly,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (east) of the Travel Agents’ Federation of India.
In 2013-14, the average return fare offered by most airlines for a Calcutta-Bangkok trip ranged between Rs 12,000 and Rs 14,000. After the withdrawal of AirAsia and Jet Airways, the average return fare increased to Rs 17,000-Rs 20,000.
Fares started dipping again the moment IndiGo and SpiceJet announced their new flights from end-September.
Sources in the aviation industry said that international carriers like Thai Airways would also be forced to reduce fares to fight the competition.
SpiceJet officials said the introductory one-way fare of Rs 2,999, inclusive of all taxes (return fare around Rs 6,000), would be retained for “some time”. This special fare would be applicable to a few seats on each flight. The average return fare between end-September and October, apart from the Durga Puja days, would range between Rs 9,000 and Rs 11,000.
“We want to consolidate our position in the sector. Fares have been structured based on demand and supply,” said Debjit Ghosh, regional sales head (east) at SpiceJet.
IndiGo is offering an average return fare of between Rs 9,000 and Rs 13,000, an official of the airline said.
“We are not reacting to the low fares offered by another airline. Having said that, the addition of seats would trigger rationalisation of fares,” he said.
Jet Airways had pulled out of the Calcutta-Bangkok sector because it wasn’t bringing returns after IndiGo and Bhutan Airlines jumped into the fray.
“This is a sector where low-cost carriers find it easier to survive, compared to full-service airlines,” an aviation official said.
The operational costs of a full-service airline are about six per cent more than that of a low-cost carrier.
The official said Thai Airways was doing well because of its onward connections from Bangkok. Other airlines depend on tourists and traders to survive.
Metro has been highlighting how lack of industry and the corresponding dearth of corporate travellers have chased many airlines from Calcutta.