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The move, which suggests a return of pricing discipline in the sector, could help airlines improve yields (revenue earned per passenger) with the onset of the peak travel season.
In end-August, a one-way Mumbai-Delhi ticket booked 0-6 days before departure was priced at Rs 3,488; now, the same costs Rs 5,557, according to MakeMyTrip.
Similarly, Mumbai-Bengaluru fares are up from Rs 3,066 to Rs 4,446 during the same period and Delhi-Bengaluru fares have risen from Rs 3,620 to Rs 7,071. Both these fares are for travel within a week of booking.
“Last-minute discounting is the worst thing for airlines and so, the return to pricing discipline is good,” said a senior executive of a private airline.
Airlines have been selling discounted tickets for immediate travel for the past two months. Air India took the lead by offering fares to match Rajdhani Express second AC fares from July and other carriers followed suit. Air India’s discounted fare scheme, too, ends on September 30.
“Fares for travel within seven days from the booking date are rising. Last-minute fares were attractively priced from July to early-September as it was an off-peak season. Average fares in September are about 10 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis and we expect ticket prices for Dussehra and Diwali holidays to increase closer to date,” said Sharat Dhall, president of Yatra.com.
According to John Nair, head (business travel) at Cox & Kings, domestic fares, especially those booked 15 days in advance, are low. “The best part is that even spot fares, those booked 24-48 hours before travel are at an all-time low, during this lean season, a recent trend. However, seeing the demand in air ticket prices, we expect fares to rise next month due to Diwali. So, it is better to book early.”