HERE are two more additions to the Did You Know series: did you know you could get to London and back for less than Rs 19,000? Did you also know that kilometre flown on the Delhi-London costs less than half of what it costs to verse a kilometre by autorickshaw in Delhi?
Well if you didn't, you've been missing out on the best holiday bargains of summer of '96. Senior travel agency sources reveal that while West-bound fares have shown a consistent decline the last few months, it has been the Delhi London route—the most popular by far which has been affected the most by fare wars. They claim that of the five air carriers flying direct to London from Delhi, four, namely Thai Airways International, United Airlines (UA), Air Canada, and Air India (AI), are offering return tickets in the range of Rs 18,000-Rs 19,000. But there's nothing official about it. Payment is strictly cash and of course, the tickets are non-endorsable, meaning you can't use a Thai Airways ticket on an UA flight. These fares are offered primarily by the consolidators (agents who sell the maximum number of tickets for an airline). Bound as they are by the official fare they have filed with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), airlines will never admit to selling excursion tickets at these rock-bottom rates, and it's impossible to pin them down either.
The only airline, apparently, which has refrained from joining the fray is British Airways (BA). Rumours are rife that Thai Airways, reportedly the initiator of these rate wars, is willing to sell tickets at Rs 17,600, and by the time you read this, they may be going even cheaper.
Industry sources say that it all began early this year when UA began daily direct flights to London from Delhi. BA and AI already had daily flights on this route, while Thai Airways and Air Canada...