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MakeMyTrip, Yatra & Goibibo Switch Off Their 'Opaque Fare' Schemes

18 Apr, 2012

A clutch of OTAs in India including two of the biggest in the business, MakeMyTrip and Yatra have pulled out the 'opaque fare schemes' which allowed users to buy airtickets at basket sale prices. This follows retaliatory moves by two of the biggest domestic airlines by number of fliers Jet Airways and IndiGo, to pull out ticket inventory from some OTAs.

IndiGo has apparently withdrawn the ticketing facility from MakeMyTrip and Jet Airways has drastically reduced its inventory on the site.

Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had directed all travel portals to withdraw this scheme end of March, stating that the scheme violated the provisions of industry regulations relating to transparency in display of air fares.

Opaque fares is a trade practice where a portal sells heavily discounted tickets but does not disclose the name of the airline until the payment is made by the customer. Among the Indian online travel portals atleast four: MakeMyTrip (MMT), Yatra, Goibibo and Via had this or a similar scheme running on their portal.

When contacted by Techcircle.in, MakeMyTrip spokesperson did not comment on the decision to pull out the scheme. In an email statement the spokesperson said: "Customer interest continues to be our first priority. All fares are displayed as per guidelines received and approved by airlines including the special fares that has been approved by the participating Airlines."

Only Via through its Fly @ Mera Price appears to be continuing with the scheme which works as a blind reverse auction. Despite repeated attempts Via.com CMO  John Kuruvilla could not be contacted for comments.

Speaking to Techcircle.in, Dhruv Shringi, founder of Yatra, whose Yatra Supersaver was withdrawn from the site early this week said, "The scheme benefits all.  Be it the OTAs, the airlines and consumers. Opaque fare is a very consumer friendly scheme which is of great benefit for the flexible consumers. Though in India it covered a small percentage of sale of tickets, many global OTAs have followed this scheme and have grown considerably benefitting all."

One of the niggling issues was claims by some airlines companies that the scheme was apparently conceived to hard-sell tickets of the crisis-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, thereby getting rid of the huge ticket inventory these portals held.

But Shringi dismissed this as a myth: "Rather, Kingfisher is just not a part of the scheme."

Nasdaq-listed MakeMyTrip had earlier said, "Opaque fares is an internationally accepted practice used by airlines and hotels to sell their unsold inventory at a discounted price. This generally helps prevent sales of unsold inventory from adversely affecting full-price retail sales. The pricing and inventory is entirely controlled by the airlines and sold through their sales channels like OTAs."