KOCHI: Ticket rates for domestic services on the Thiruvananthapuram sector are likely to ease with new operator, Akasa Air, all set to initiate operations from the first quarter of next year. Unlike other airlines, Akasa Air has a flexible tariff structure that allows passengers to travel within the country on a shoestring budget. This could give it a competitive advantage over rivals such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara, forcing them to reconsider their ticket prices.
Akasa Air, the country’s newest airline, launched services on the Bengaluru-Kochi sector last August. The airline currently operates from Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, and Kochi.
According to Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd (TIAL) sources, Akasa Air’s next service will be from the state capital, on the Bengaluru-Thiruvananthapuram sector. The airline, founded by the late Rakesh Jhunjhunwala offers Bengaluru-Kochi tickets for Rs 1,747.
Airport authorities have already received communication from the airline on starting services. They are expected to make an official announcement soon. Flights between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru, and Bengaluru and Kochi, where Akasa Air operates, now cost 20-25 per cent less.
Vistara, meanwhile, plans to begin its second daily service between Thiruvananthapuram and New Delhi in the first week of December. Vistara already operates one daily service in the sector. “More operators are planning services from Thiruvananthapuram. The confirmation will be made soon. Indigo has increased its daily services to Bengaluru from three to five. The increase in frequency has also impacted ticket prices. Now, it costs around Rs 4,500 to fly to Bengaluru from here. However, rates will come down in the coming months with more airlines starting services from here, “ a TIAL source said.
Now, the airport handles four services daily to New Delhi, five to Bengaluru, four to Mumbai, and three to Chennai. A daily service to Pune was started last month.
Furthermore, there has been a sharp increase in international flight services from the capital city. Sources said that this can be attributed to two international airlines, Jazeera Airways and Salam Air, starting operations from here three months ago. Now, ticket rates for international flights from Thiruvananthapuram are more or less equal, if not less, to those from Kochi.
TIAL WORKING OUT EXPANSION BUDGET
TIAL has prepared the preliminary master plan for development of the Thiruvan-anthapuram International Airport. It is currently working out the budget estimates for the project. Sources confirmed that TIAL is likely to submit the report to the AERA (Airports Economic Regulatory Authority) within three months. After a three-year wait, the expansion of the airport is set to becoming a reality. The acquisition of an additional 34 acres of land is now under the consideration of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the state government. Of the 34 acres, 18 acres will need to be acq-uired at Vayya-moola for terminal expansion and 16 near Brahmos Aerospace to expand the runway in order to accommodate larger and additional flights. Though the Airport Authority of India had decided to acquire 18 acres in 2014, residents led by objected.