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Airlines offer up to 50% discounts | Apple's sale strategy backfires in India

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MUMBAI: International airlines are giving away discounts of up to 50% to fill seats in the upcoming holiday season, as most Indian tourists now prefer frequent short trips throughout the year to
one big trip in the holiday season.

Singapore Airlines' current economy class fares from Mumbai to Singapore are just over Rs 21,000, close to 30% cheaper than last year. Even close to the Diwali date of November 11, the fare is at the same levels.

Malaysia Airlines is offering business class fares starting Rs 45,000 to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Bangkok, Jakarta and Bali, from Mumbai, which is again 30% cheaper than its usual fares on these sectors. The airline will sell these discounted tickets till October 29 for travel up to March 31 next year. Economy class fares start from Rs 16,990.

International airlines offer discounts up to 50% to woo fliers

Premium carrier Qatar Airways too has cut rates, while Ethiopian Airlines recently introduced an offer of 50% cheaper tickets to destinations in Africa. On Tuesday, it replaced the offer with a buy one get one free.

"International airlines don't exactly have people flocking to them during the holiday season any more. People are now taking shorter trips during long weekends, booking their holidays well in advance. Add to that the growing demand for holidays within the country," said Manoj Samuel, executive director Riya Travels.

Apart from changing customer habits, increased competition due to additional capacity deployed by airlines have also impacted their loads. Travel companies, however, expect the discount deals to find many takers.

"Travellers can take advantage of these discounts at a time when international airfares during the winter are going up. There are some great deals available especially for long haul sectors," said John Nair, head corporate travel at Cox and kings.

David Lau, head of Singapore Airlines' India operations, claimed the airline has not seen a dip in demand for October and November. The discount sale is in spite of that. "However last minute fares will likely go up next month," he said.

India's second biggest carrier Jet Airways had on October 5 announced a six-day 'super sale' with discounts of up to 30% on its overseas fares and those sold by its strategic partner Etihad Airways on sectors in the Gulf, Saarc, Asean, Europe, the US and Canada regions.