It seems that Kerala would be able to reap benefits from the ongoing price war between low-cost aviation companies. The newly proposed joint venture between AirAsia and Tata Group that would commence operations late this year would have destinations in the state in its itinerary.
“The airline is going to be a domestic service. We would look at destinations in Kerala to operate from, once we commence our services,” Suresh Nair, Regional Head of AirAsia, India, told Express.
Though the airline would cater to the domestic market in the initial period, experts in the aviation sector feel that the company would soon foray into the international market.
At present, for an airline to operate in the international market, the rules stipulate that the company should have operated for a minimum of five years old and have at least 20 aircraft. There are reports that the state-run Air India could get into the fare war initiated by low-cost carriers, including SpiceJet, IndiGo and Jet Airways. Kerala, home to a large expatriate community, would benefit from this, if it were to be a reality.
“We would be offering travel fares that are around 40 per cent lower than that of other airlines. On an average, around 85 per cent of our seats are being sold out,” Suresh Nair said.
Commenting on the airfare war, Paulose K Mathew, chairman, Travel Agents Federation of India (Kerala Chapter) said that it would be a boon for the domestic tourism sector and the business community.
“The Kerala market seems reluctant to spend much on air travel. But with the entry of low-cost airlines, people would start to depend more on air travel,” he added.
Air Asia launched its operations from Kerala on November 16, 2009. Initially, the rate was `3,000 for one-way travel from Kochi to Kuala Lumpur.
Following the success of its operations, the rates were subsequently hiked. But one can avail of cheaper rates if the booking is done in advance.
Currently, the airline operates daily flights from Kochi to Kuala Lumpur, with a seating capacity of 180.
The Kerala market plays a key role in the aviation sector in the country, with the number of flights and passengers increasing at a rate of around 15 per cent annually.
Currently, there are around 100 trips operated on a daily basis from Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports by various airline companies.