SALEM: TrueJet’s 72-seater ATR aircraft took flight with full load of passengers to Chennai from Salem, on the second day of commencement of commercial flight service from Salem Airport. Except the seat occupied by the on-board Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME), all other seats were sold out for passengers headed to Salem or Chennai. Open tickets for Chennai were sold between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 as against the budget fare Rs 1,499 for 36 seats.
True Jet’s commercial department sources said that on Sunday and Monday, 10 to 20 seats were open for over-the-counter tickets, while the rest were advance-booked.True Jet’s Commercial Head Senthil Raja said that the bookings for next two months were encouraging and there were plans to have an additional daily service between Salem and Chennai and connecting services to Tirupati and Bengaluru. “We are more interested in the budget segment and our marketing is directed towards wooing the first time flyers and the common man. Hence, we have fixed the minimum fare at Rs 1,499 as against the government’s recommended minimum fare of Rs 1,810.
This is slightly less than the first class express train fare from Salem to Chennai. We want to be competitive with alternative travel options such as the airconditioned omni bus and special trains like the Shatabdi” said Senthil. However, the sustainability of the flight service was guaranteed for three years with Central and State subsidies and viability gap fund, said industry sources. Stating that there were no major teething issues, company sources said that most of the flyers were arriving late at the airport for boarding the plane. “We insist that passengers arrive at least 45 minutes in advance for security checks. We give SMS alerts to passengers to arrive on time the first two days. From Tuesday, we plan to make calls in advance and inform the need for early arrival.”