Logistics

PM voices concern over high airfares during festive seasons

| | Updated on: Sep 02, 2015
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed concern over steep rise in airfares during festive seasons, following which the Civil Aviation Ministry is looking at ways to curb such instances.

There have been instances of airlines hiking price of air tickets during festival seasons when more people travel.

According to a senior ministry official, Prime Minister has expressed concern over price of air tickets going up during festive seasons and has asked “whether there is a way to handle it (the issue)”.

The ministry is looking at various options to address the issue, the official said even as he noted that regulating airfares would not be a way out.

Prime Minister received a representation that airfares are high during the Onam festival that is celebrated in Kerala. At that time, many Keralites – working in the Middle East come home with their families – have to shell out high prices of air tickets, the official said.

“High airfares (during festivals) are a cause for concern.

“We will try to address the problem... both in international and domestic routes,” the official said.

When asked about how the matter could be addressed without regulating airfares, the official said one of the options would be to encourage the use of unutilised bilateral rights with other countries. Utilising bilateral rights would result in increased availability of seats, which in turn can help reduce the airfares, he added.

Last week, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma had said the issue of predatory pricing was a concern of a majority of Parliamentarians and as well as the Prime minister.

“The Prime Minister has shown his concern over the predatory pricing issue and it needs to be addressed,” he had said.

Concerns have been expressed in various quarters, including by Parliamentarians, over drastic fluctuations in air fares.

Last week, Sharma said that carriers need to reduce fares and not hike them particularly when it comes to emergency travel like in medical emergency.

On the issue of fare wars in the sector, he had said that there could be three approaches to prevent predatory pricing.

“We will take the airlines into confidence and tell them that the practice (of predatory pricing) is giving a bad name to the industry,” he had said.

According to Sharma, a mechanism can also be there through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) or through national carrier Air India to deal with the issue.

In May, a group of Parliamentarians, led by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya, had met Competition Commission of India (CCI) Chairman Ashok Chawla and lodged a complaint against carriers on the issue of air ticket pricing.

Currently, CCI is probing possible cartelisation among carriers in fixing airfares.

Published on January 22, 2018

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