CHENNAI: It may be a while before SpiceJet’s accounting and ticketing staff are done with refunding passengers whose flights were cancelled last month. And yet, their first flash sale after returning from the brink of bankruptcy, has been met with a decent enough response. “We have begun selling SpiceJet tickets and the response has been quite decent. Though Air India and Indigo have had similar discount sales this month, their sectors have been limited. Though the response isn’t quite as overwhelming as it was when they had such offers last year, it’s not bad,” said Prema Radhakrishnan, who runs a travel agency called Emerald Airways.
With 5 lakh tickets on offer from as low as `1,499, SpiceJet is still reeling from the bad karma caused by the en masse cancellations. “I’ll never forget how we were stranded in Kolkata with no return flight to Chennai. It was a busy weekend and we had to run from one airline office to another before we finally settled for tickets on a weekly train. That is why I would not fly SpiceJet again, even if they offer dead cheap fares,” said Srikanth Ramakrishnan, an engineer.
Several other passengers who had gone through similar ordeals were of the same view, especially because the tickets stretch up to the end of June. “I think things are going stable at the moment, but who knows what can happen in 2-3 months,” concurred Jamal S, a businessman.
Flash sales were among the chief reasons blamed for the airline’s debt burden, but SpiceJet’s man at the helm, COO Sanjiv Kapoor said that this was the way to go. “The return of our Super Sale in 2015 at the onset of low season is a continued vote of confidence in the fact that such sales and promotions, if done right, are a win-win-win for customers, airlines, and the travel ecosystem at large,” he said. “Such promotions are an integral part of the LCC pricing model. Unlike a bar of soap that can be put back on the shelf and sold later, an airline seat is the ultimate perishable commodity. Once the aircraft takes off, that empty seat’s revenue is lost forever. And it is always better to sell such seats in advance to those willing to book early in exchange for lower fares, rather than discount them at the last minute when passengers tend to be the least price sensitive,” he reasoned.
Bodies like the Air Passengers Association of India have said that this is a “healthy” move for passengers, if they are able to sustain. “As long as history does not repeat itself, passengers stand to gain from such sales,” said D Sudhakara Reddy, APAI president.
Online air ticket vendors like Makemytrip and Yatra have not glorified this flash sale as they have been known to do in the past, but smaller players like Tripfactory have voiced their support. Their founder-CEO Vinay Gupta said, “This sale offer coming from SpiceJet after a gap of few months shows the airline is back on track.”