Taking a dig at the Indian Railways’ new dynamic pricing model in Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi trains, Air India put out advertisements in national dailies Saturday claiming its flights are now comparatively the cheaper means of transport.
With it’s mascot maharaja, the Air India ad titled “India udo dil khol ke” goes on to state “Now Air India spot fares cheaper than Rajdhani flexi fares.” The company’s official website claimed customers can avail “spot fares” on all Rajdhani Express routes on price of the train’s first and second class AC ticket, between June 27 and September 30, 2016.
The ad comes days after Railways introduced a dynamic pricing model on its premium trains in a bid to shore up commercial ticket revenues. As per the government release, the base fares of these trains will increase by 10 per cent with every 10 per cent of berths sold subject to a prescribed ceiling limit. Basically, it means after the selling of the first 10% of tickets (which usually happens in minutes) on a particular train, the price onward will automatically increase according to rising demand. For example on the Mumbai Rajdhani, a passenger travelling in AC-II class will have to shell out Rs 4,055 as compared to the current rate of Rs 2,870. Similarly in the AC-III tier, a passenger will have to pay a maximum of Rs 2,736 while the present rate is Rs 2,085 including the add-on charges. The move of course has been fiercely slammed by the opposition who’ve termed the surge pricing as “anti-passengers” and a ‘preposterous move by the government’.
The Air India ad in newspapers today could be seen as taking clever advantage of the situation when people, especially those who travel in the Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains, are miffed with the Railways for announcing such steep hikes in fares, despite it being on an experimental basis. Air India, the country’s flag carrier, is not doing well at all and is desperately trying to attract passengers especially on the domestic routes, where it has been easily outsmarted by private rivals like Indigo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet. Earlier this year, the public-sector company posted a modest operational profit, the first in nine years aided most definitely by lower fuel prices. But it is still not out of the woods yet. In 2014-15, the company’s losses stood at Rs 5859.91 crore.