Via.com has joined other OTAs and pulled out the 'opaque fare scheme' which allowed users to buy air tickets at basket sale prices. Via had launched the Mera Trip @ Mera Price (MTMP) service four months ago which allowed customers to quote or specify the price they were prepared to pay for a non refundable travel ticket. While the non refundable bid allowed travellers to get cheap tickets, they couldn't choose their airlines or flight time.
We had earlier reported how other large OTAs such as MakeMyTrip and Yatra had stopped the opaque fare schemes but at that time Via's Fly @ Mera Price was still live. It was pulled out over the last few days.
A message displayed on the site for the past few days reads "In compliance with the directive of the DGCA, we regret to inform that the opaque ticket scheme is withdrawn with immediate effect. We will be happy to process your refund immediately."
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had earlier asked all travel portals to withdraw such opaque fare schemes because the scheme was violating the provisions of industry regulations.
Opaque fare schemes basically allowed the customers to purchase flight tickets at heavily discounted prices, but the site did not disclose the name of the airline until the payment was made, hence altogether barring the option of airline selection. But one of the issues raised by airline companies was that the scheme was apparently conceived to hard-sell tickets of the crisis-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, but Dhruv Shringi, founder of Yatra, had dismissed this as a myth.
This can be seen as the direct effect of Jet Airways and IndiGo (two of the biggest domestic airlines by number of fliers) pulling out ticket inventory from some OTAs. Even as MakeMyTrip stopped the scheme; we still couldn't find Indigo or Jet flights as booking options on the site.