The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that air passengers need not pay transaction fee when booking tickets till the Civil Aviation Secretary takes a final decision on the matter.

Typically, a passenger pays a transaction fee ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 500.

This is paid to the airline if the booking is made directly with the airline, or to travel agents if the tickets are booked through them.

It is not unusual for travel agents to charge a higher transaction fee if they provide additional services to a passenger.

Base price

The apex court has also directed the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to examine the tariff structure being followed by airlines as it feels that the base price charged by them is too wide.

Sources indicated that airlines have 13-14 fare levels on most sectors with GoAir having as many as 22 fares ranging from Rs 3,770 to Rs 24,200 for one-way travel between Delhi and Mumbai.

The fares on various airlines were such that in December last year, the cost of a one-way ticket on Air India between Delhi and Chennai varied from Rs 4,170 to Rs 28,908, while on Jet Airways, it was between Rs 4,730 and Rs 29,900.

In comparison, low cost airline IndiGo charged between Rs 4,020 and Rs 17,949, and SpiceJet, between Rs 4,020 and Rs 17,549.

On the Delhi-Mumbai sector, Air India’s fares ranged from Rs 3,920 to Rs 21,136, Jet Airways’ Rs 4,480 to Rs 23,950, and Jet Konnect’s from Rs 3,770 to Rs 24,100.

While on IndiGo, a passenger had to pay anything from Rs 3,770 to Rs 16,449 for flying on the same sector, on SpiceJet the fares ranged between Rs 3,770 and Rs 15,849, and on GoAir Rs 3,770 to Rs 24,200.

Additional charges

These were the basic fares. In addition, a passenger also has to pay a passenger service fee, airport charges and a fuel surcharge.

The Supreme Court also rapped the DGCA for not enforcing its own directions which it had issued in December last asking airlines not to charge any transaction fee from flyers.

The DGCA will soon call for a meeting of all domestic airlines to find a method of implementing the Supreme Court order.

It will look at how to keep the fare band within manageable limits without either affecting the profitability of the airline or compromising on a passenger’s right to know what fare is being charged.

(This article was published on January 23, 2013)
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