The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Half-ticket flight to Singapore
- Fifty per cent slash in fare has rivals rethink strategies; domestic fliers have news to cheer, too

Singapore Airlines has slashed its fares by a whopping 50 per cent, a move that could trigger yet another war over a share of the sky and another free fall of ticket prices.

Come Wednesday, Calcuttans will be able to purchase a round-trip Singapore ticket for Rs 6,900, down from Rs 12,000, plus taxes.

Announcing the scheme, Bharat Mahadevan, manager (east) of Singapore Airlines, said more 'attractive' sops for passengers from the city are in the offing. 'With our attractive fares, we hope more Calcuttans will fly with us than ever before for super holidays in Singapore.'

According to the new fare plan, passengers will have to buy a non-refundable ticket of Rs 6,900 between Wednesday and March 31 in the first phase, and travel anytime in the year.

The massive discount offered by the Southeast Asian aviation giant has come as a relief for tour operators, as well as the passengers, who were shocked by Royal Jordanian Airlines' decision to pull out of Calcutta.

The fare slash has forced both Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways, the other two major airlines flying to Southeast Asia, to rethink their strategies and try and offset any possible impact on their businesses.

'We are very happy with our load factor from Calcutta, but at the same time we are working out exciting plans, on the lines of a Langkavi (a Malaysian destination) package for Calcuttans,' said Mohammed Safri Abdullah, manager (east India), Malaysia Airlines.

Thai Airways, which has been flying seven days a week to Bangkok on an experimental basis following the government's announcement of an open-sky policy, is planning to make it a permanent feature this year.

'The experiment of flying seven days, instead of five, from the city has been a success and we are in talks with the authorities to make it a continuing affair,' said S.C. Kapoor, district sales manager (Calcutta) for Thai.

Good news awaits domestic fliers as well, with two airlines ' Air One and Kingfisher Airlines ' planning to introduce direct flights from Calcutta to Jaipur and Ahmedabad. 'Since there are no direct flights from Calcutta to either destination, people will benefit greatly from this decision,' said Anil Punjabi, chairman (east) of the Travel Agents Federation of India.

Air One, which operates from Bhubaneswar, is likely to take off from the city in March. The Kingfisher flights are likely later this month. The airline will also fly to Pune and Goa.

Calcuttans now have a tough time flying to these two destinations. 'This is great news for us. I need to travel to Jaipur at least twice a month, and always face such problems,' said Rakesh Singh, a city-based businessman.

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