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With low-cost airlines knocking at the doors and the low-demand season looming on the horizon, domestic airlines are pulling up their socks and wooing the air traveller with renewed vigour.

After Indian Airlines announced an attractive package on non-metro fares last week, Air Sahara today slashed its apex fares by around 30% for metro cities bringing them at par with AC II tier railway fares.

A Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi ticket will now be available for Rs 4,444, a Delhi-Kolkata-Delhi ticket will cost Rs 5,555 and a Delhi-Bangalore-Delhi ticket will be available for Rs 6,666 as per the new scheme. All metros, including cities like Hyderabad and Bangalore, have been included in the scheme.

"The idea is two fold - to make air travel more affordable and enlarge the reach of the airline," Rono Dutta, president Air Sahara, told reporters, here today, while announcing the new package. The traveller has to book 30 days in advance to avail the new scheme, therefore the first flight under the new scheme will be available from August 20

"We want the load factor to be around 70% and the scheme will help us be there on a constant basis, Mr Dutta said and added that this is where airlines make money. He also said that it is a revenue positive move.

Families planning a vacation are the clear target and not the corporate sector, since one Sunday stay at the destination has been made compulsory under the new package, Mr Dutta said. The idea is also to woo people away from trains, he added.

"We have seen internationally that if fares are reduced by 35%, travel goes up by 15%. Though there are no established trends on this in India, we expect the same results here too," he said.

Apex fares have contributed significantly to the 85% growth Air Sahara has registered over a year. It now has six levels of apex fares against two of Indian Airlines and three of Jet.

The airline, for the moment, just wants to up traffic and it will respond to low-cost airlines later, officials said. It is also planning to get on board more aircraft, for which it has identified narrow-bodied Boeing planes. It will lease a minimum of three aircraft every year over the short term.

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