Two airlines, IndiGo Airlines and Jet Airways are at loggerheads with the online travel agent MakeMyTrip over its opaque fare scheme, reports Business Standard. The report states that IndiGo Airlines has withdrawn all its inventory from the portal while Jet Airways has significantly reduced its inventory and has limited seat bookings to five seats per day.
Zero Cancellation Offer withdrawn: In a possibly related development, MakeMyTrip informed Medianama that it has withdrawn the Zero Cancellation charge offer which was launched a fortnight ago, stating that the offer was just being tested on the portal. We wonder if there was a connection between the zero cancellation offer and the airline deciding to withdraw, since the scheme could have affected bookings on Indigo’s own site. Indigo’s exit might affect sales on MakeMyTrip as it’s one of the largest airlines in terms of passengers carried. According to DGCA data, Indigo carried 11.1 lakh passengers in January 2012 and 10.76 lakh passengers in February 2012. Jet also carried 11.13 lakh passengers in February 2012.
Opaque Fare Issue: Opaque fares is a scheme among online travel portals like MakeMyTrip, Yatra.com and Goibibo, which allows them to sell airline tickets at a heavily discounted price without revealing the airline’s name until the booking is done. This scheme was apparently conceived to hard-sell tickets of the crisis-riden Kingfisher Airlines, thereby getting rid of the huge ticket inventory these portals held.
Last month, Jet Airways went vocal on this issue, terming this practice as a scam and damaging to the market. It had requested the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) to take necessary action against this practice failing which, it had threatened to pull out of online travel portals who engaged in this practice. A day later, MakeMyTrip had stated that opaque fares benefit both the consumers and the airlines and is an internationally accepted practice used by airlines to sell their unsold inventory at a discounted price without affecting its full-price retail sales since they are able to control the entire pricing and inventory in this scheme.
On March 28, DGCA directed all travel portals to withdraw this scheme, stating that the scheme violated the provisions of the 1937 Aircraft Rules and other circulars relating to transparency in display of air fares. Following this, MakeMyTrip reportedly dropped Kingfisher Airlines from this scheme and had claimed to have withdrawn the opaque fares scheme.
Aditya Ghosh, president of IndiGo, however, claimed that MakeMyTrip continued this practice despite several complaints from the airline, which forced them to take the current course of action.