Due to the increasing operational cost of airlines in India, train travel has now become a much cheaper alternative. The price for an air-conditioned train journey is now lower than that of a low-cost airline carrier (LCC). Now the only time passengers get cheap flights is when airlines engage in a price war and offer low and all-inclusive fares during lean travel periods.
A couple of years ago, the LCC fares were positioned close to Rajdhani second class AC fare level and the idea was to convert train passengers into flyers. Kapil Kaul, from the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said, “There is no comparison between train and airfares now. Operating costs for airlines have shot up tremendously in India over the past two to three years.”
Kaul added that today the average air fares begin from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 and earlier it was as low as between Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,000. However, due to the increase in airline costs, there is nothing like a low-fare airline as of now. One travel agent said that the Malaysian ultra LCC – Air Asia, is planning to begin operations in the country by the end of the year, along with the Tatas. However, due to the current situation and the rising jet fuel prices, the question remains if they will be able to give low fares or not.