Air carriers called to discuss high fares issue

Thursday, Sep 3, 2015,21:23 IST By metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | Domestic air carriers have been called for a meeting on September 15 by the government to discuss the issue of high airfares, especially during festival seasons and emergency travel, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed serious concern over the issue.
However, the Civil Aviation Ministry has ruled out regulating the fares  as it goes against the principle of market economy. We have called a meeting of domestic airlines to address the issue of high fares, especially during festive season, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said today. He said during the meeting the ministry would urge the carriers to put an end to the practice of predatory pricing by evolving a consensus on the issue.
Government has no intention to regulate air airfares in the country, Sharma said adding, However, something is needed to stop the practice of charging high fares during festive seasons and emergency travel like medical emergency. We are hopeful that the airlines would respond in a positive manner to our request or suggestion in this regard. There could be three solutions to prevent predatory pricing, Sharma said.
He said a mechanism can be there set up through the Directorate General of Civil Aviation or national carrier Air India to deal with the issue. But, we don’t want to use the regulator’s route at this stage, he said.  The Prime Minister had recently expressed concern over the steep rise in airfares, especially during festive seasons, when more people travel and had asked whether there is a way to handle it (the issue).
During his recent visit to the UAE, the Prime Minister had received a representation that airfares are high during the Onam festival that is celebrated in Kerala.  During festivals like Onam,  many Keralites–working in the Middle East who come home with their families–have to shell out high prices of air tickets for a last minute travel.
Besides, many Parliamentarians too have expressed concern on the issue from time to time. We have seen airlines hiking their fares three-to-four times than the normal fares for spot travel and  during festival seasons and this practice is giving a bad name to them, he said.
Interestingly, the Director General of Civil Aviation had in an analysis on fares conducted through the four quarters of 2014 found that the average fare of domestic carriers during peak demand seasons was closer to the minimum fare. The average fare is closer to the minimum fare being offered by the airlines indicating that most of the tickets sold by the airlines are not at exorbitant price, it had said.