Relief for flyers? DGCA says 20% fare hike not acceptable
Not only the Prime Minister but the DGGA too has warned airlines warned against hiking fares beyond their band, saying the cost of operation has not undergone any major change over the past two months.
It is a busy season for airlines with summer vacations right around the corner and seasonal demand for flight tickets at its peak. But with major airlines like Kingfisher just operating 16 flights in the country, down from 64, and Air India pilots on a strike, air fares are on fire.
However, it is not airlines but consumers who are taking the heat of the gorwing concerns over India's aviation woes.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now decided to step in and has issued a formal warning, asking private airlines not to raise airfares beyond their band as cost of operating airlines have not seen any major rise in past couple of months. It asked the scheduled airlines to "ensure that no upward revision in tariff is effected due to ongoing industrial unrest in Air India and also surge in demand during this period."
Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly told the civil aviation minister Ajit Singh that steps must be taken to ensure that airfares do not rise despite the strike.
The aviation regulator DGCA said that major routes with heavy traffic have seen a substantial fare hike, with routes between some metros seeing a 15-20 percent fare hike.
"It has been brought to the notice of the DGCA through search of websites of airlines and media reports as well as feedback from air travellers that fares on certain high demand sectors have registered a sudden spurt, which is almost 15 to 20 per cent higher on various metro routes compared to a month ago," the DGCA said in its order.
This order from DGCA has come after Rajya Sabha members voiced concerns on Thursday that passengers were suffering due to cancellation of Air India flights and hike in fares by private airlines. Earlier, Estimates Committee had raised a similar issue in the Lok Sabha asking the government to stop private airlines from increasing fares indiscriminately. The committee had said that the DGCA was empowered to check airlines from indulging in excessive or predatory pricing, but it had "doubts about DGCA taking any cautionary step on these lines".
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