If a deal between Air India and the Indian Railways comes through, Passengers with unconfirmed AC-I or AC-II tickets for Rajdhani Express may soon be able to fly to their destination instead by paying the difference, if any, in the price of the train and air tickets.
Chairman of the Railway Board Ashwani Lohani said that he had proposed the plan last year when he was Air India chairman, but the railways had not reacted to it positively. He has said that he will clear the plan if Air India proposes it again.
The Rajdhani express is perhaps India’s most popular train service and therefore people often struggle to get confirmed seats on the train, especially for those who book AC-I and AC-II tickets.
In a bid to boost AI's aircraft occupancy, "turnaround man" Lohani had planned that such people's contact details could be automatically shared with AI, which could then offer them seats on flights for the same destination at competitive rates, reported the Times of India.
“AC-II Rajdhani fares are more or less similar to air fares," Lohani said.
According to Mr. Lohani’s original proposal, personal details of passengers booking the Rajdhani tickets can be shared with Air India once it is clear that their tickets are unconfirmed. AI can then get in touch with them and offer them lucrative deals on flights to choose from. This makes a lot of sense since airfare of domestic destinations is more or less the same as Rajdhani AC-II ticket rates.
With the proposal, Lohani had used his experience with the railways to rid AI of one of its most vexing problems: low aircraft occupancy. However, his proposal was not accepted then. Hopefully AI will make a fresh proposal considering the sorry state of its affairs.