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IRCTC to venture into Online Air ticket Booking
 IRCTC to venture into Online Air ticket Booking
By: iMedia News Bureau

Considering the sudden increase in the online ticket booking, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is now focusing more on online ticket booking system across the country. The website - air.irctc.co.in - is planned to be launched next week.

Earlier this month the IRCTC which is a wing of the Indian Railways had already become an agent of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IRCTC has tied up with Air India and Jet Airways to provide services to an elite class of passengers.

The railways online ticket reservation through the IRCTC site has increased to about 3,60,000 to 3,70,000 bookings per day now while it was hardly about 40,000 bookings per day in 2008. However, the IRCTC is likely to target about 7, 50,000 bookings a day by 2015.

IRCTC which has one of the largest e-commerce capabilities in Asia Pacific books around 3.65 lakhs of railway tickets every day, which is roughly 45 per cent of the total reserved tickets of Indian Railways.

There are around 1, 50,000 airline seats available daily out of which around 40-50 per cent or 70,000-75,000 seats are sold online. IRCTC is looking at 10 per cent market share in the first 6 months in the airline ticket booking space.

Confirming the sudden rush on the IRCTC site for ticket booking either online or through SMS system, IRCTC MD Rakesh Tandon said that the IRCTC has meticulously planned to cope with the rush of customers on its site. "The IRCTC has managed to maintain its lead position in the domestic travel ticket bookings. But it is keen to make its portal a 'one stop shop' for planning tours and other services required by passengers while undertaking journey".

The IRCTC ticket business accounts for about 40 percent of the total revenue of the corporation which is about Rs 550 crore annually. However, one of the major initiatives in reaching the goal would be to make fast bucks through SMS ticket booking service like online ticket booking system.

The IRCTC is also planning to reduce the payment transaction time which is about 1.5 to 2.5 minutes per ticket booking online. The failure rate at the transaction stage is said to be about 20 to 25 percent only. But in case of certain banks, the failure rate goes up to even 40 percent due to lack of 'state-of-the-art' arrangement between the IRCTC and a few banks.

"While other online travel agencies charge around Rs 500 - 750 on cancellation of tickets, ours will be much less," Tandon said.

The other unique aspect of the website is that there will be no service charge levied by IRCTC unlike other travel agencies and there would be a quick refund process.

To maintain its lead position in the domestic travel booking space, IRCTC wants to make the portal a one-stop shop for planning tours and introduce innovative facilities such as branded card and booking through SMS. The next step would be to introduce reservation through voice recognition. This would involve dialling a number and giving details and a particular pin number.