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Sunday, Dec 15, 2002

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Air discounts for senior citizens may be scrapped

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI, Dec. 14

DOMESTIC airlines may either reduce or do away with the senior citizen discount, which are being offered at present, senior Government officials said here today.

However, officials emphasised that the decision to reduce or do away with the senior citizen discount completely will have to be taken by each airlines on a commercial basis. Officials pointed out that Indian Airlines would have performed better financially, if it were not forced to carry out its social obligations, which most of the other domestic airlines were not.

Officials also indicated that several other proposals, including going in for reverse auction of unviable routes being operated by IA, were being considered to improve the airlines' bottomline. Sources said that IA was forced to fly on several routes without any assistance from the State while other airlines were not willing to operate on these sectors.

"The airline gets little or no subsidy for all the social obligations that it performs. These all contribute to the losses of the airline. You cannot expect the airlines to perform its social obligations and also report healthy profits without any aid from the Government," officials said.

At present, almost all domestic airlines, including Jet Airways and IA offer a 50 per cent discount on the basic fare to senior citizens.

However, officials of at least one private sector airlines, when contacted, said that no such proposal was being examined at the present moment.

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