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Smaller Cities Offer Cheaper Airfares To Overseas Hotspots

If you were considering a Sentosa trip for your kids, or seeking much-needed retail therapy on Orchard Road, you’d be better off giving Delhi’s crowded airport a miss and flying to Singapore instead from Jaipur.

The reason is simple: It’s much cheaper to board a flight from Sanganer – just about half of what it costs to fly to Singapore from Delhi’s T3. Fares on short-haul overseas routes from non-metro airports nosedived this summer, dovetailing neatly into federal efforts at spreading aviation to the hinterland and smaller cities in India.

Data compiled for ET by online travel portal ixigo show that international budget carriers are offering cheap fares from Lucknow, Jaipur and Trichy, to Singapore, Hong Kong and other cities in India’s neighbourhood (see chart).

The entry of budget carriers on the short-haul routes and lower operational fees at tier-2 airports have caused fares to fall. Data show that the average of lowest fare available for August on the Delhi-Singapore route comes to about Rs 10,145, which is 45.30% more than the fare available between Jaipur and Singapore — Rs 5,549.

The impact of lower fares from smaller cities is clearly visible in the growth in international passengers from tier-2 towns. Airports Authority of India data show that international traffic from Jaipur and Trichy registered double digit growth.

In Jaipur, the growth was 26% in April-May 2017, and Trichy registered a growth of 18.2% during the same period over last year. “Low cost carriers such as Scoot, Tiger, Air Arabia, FlyDubai etc. have launched their services from various tier 2 cities over the past 12 to 18 months and have gained significant market share through lower fares,” said Sharat Dhall, chief operating officer at Yatra.com, India’s second largest online travel portal.

“They have dropped fares from certain tier 2 cities to South East Asia and the Middle East, and this has resulted in the growth of direct traffic from these towns.”
Such has been the impact of the teaser fares that many residents of smaller towns now prefer international vacations in the country’s neighbourhood to hill stations in the north or beaches in the peninsula. “With international travel becoming more affordable, more people from Jaipur, Kochi, Lucknow, or Amritsar are opting to travel abroad instead of taking holidays within India,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder at ixigo.com.

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