Jet Airways, Air India announce fare cuts today
Tuesday, 30 December 2008, 04:41 Hrs
New Delhi: India's leading private air carrier, Jet Airways, and state-owned operator Air India Monday announced fare cuts. While Jet will reduce the fares on its domestic routes by up to 40 percent with immediate effect, Air India is expected to announce the quantum Tuesday. In a statement, Jet said the economy class base fare will now be 2,000 on its Mumbai-Delhi flight, 4,065 on the Mumbai-Kolkata route, 1,220 on the Bangalore-Mumbai sector, and Mumbai-Ahmedabad for as low as 500. The fares are exclusive of taxes, which average about 3,500 on every economy ticket. Earlier in the day, Air India confirmed to IANS it too would slash fares from Jan 1. Kingfisher Airlines Sunday announced fare cut from January 1. "In view of the slackening demand in post-peak season and continued decline in fuel prices, Air India will be adjusting domestic fares downwards on various sectors shortly," an Air India spokesperson said here. The spokesperson, however, did not divulge the quantum of fare cut, saying it was still being worked out. "We would be able to come with reduced fares by January 1," he told IANS. Kingfisher chairman Vijaya Mallya said in a statement Sunday that the airline would begin the New Year on an aggressive note by slashing fares. But he did not quantify the reduction either. Low cost carriers are also expected to follow suit, said an industry official. Despite the fall in fuel prices, Indian air operators have been unwilling to cut fares, demanding that aviation turbine fuel (ATF) be brought under the "declared goods" category, which would bring down sales tax from an average of 32 percent at various airports to a uniform 4 percent. The proposal is now before parliament. Sales tax varies from 4 percent to 32 percent, and accounts for over 35 percent of operational costs of airlines. Last month, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal said at a function here that he did not favour fare cuts as long as the aviation fuel was not classified as a declared good. However, air operators started cutting fares following pressure from the government, especially as aviation fuel costs have been slashed, with civil aviation minister Praful Patel urging air carriers to pass on the benefit to travellers. The lean season ahead also forced the issue for operators. State governments are likely to oppose the uniform taxation policy as it would lead to revenue loss due to lower sales tax collection. Over the past four months, there has been a sharp decline in aviation fuel prices. While some air carriers earlier this month reduced the fuel surcharge on the ticket price by 200 to 400, they did not touch the base fare. Oil companies have reduced aviation fuel prices seven times since September. The fuel is now sold at 32,691.28 per kilolitre in Delhi after prices were slashed by 4,208.37 in the first week of December.