Government warns airlines on high fares


New Delhi : Airlines cannot be allowed to charge “exorbitant” fares, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said Thursday, adding that errant firms will be dealt with strictly.

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“Airlines, in the last few weeks specially, have been charging very exorbitant prices from passengers on most routes. This is a phenomenon which has been taken serious note of by the ministry as well as the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation),” Patel told reporters here.

He added that aviation watchdog DGCA had provisions to check such malpractices, and would invoke them if airlines do not fall in line.

“DGCA has sent notices to all the airlines and this kind of predatory pricing cannot be justified and it cannot be allowed to continue. DGCA has special powers and they can certainly invoke them if the airlines do not act responsibly in the days to come,” the minister added.

Passengers have been particularly complaining about the Delhi-Mumbai route, where fares have risen by a significant margin in the recent past. This route accounts for 70 percent of the total domestic air traffic.

Patel said airlines could publish lower and higher end of price bands for all routes, which would make the process more transparent.

“But they cannot go for a free run and ask for any kind of price from a customer at the last minute,” he said, referring to recent cases where airlines hiked prices by up to 200 percent for last-minute bookings.

Earlier this month, the civil aviation watchdog had asked domestic airlines to maintain transparency in publishing fares across various categories — including the basic fare, and taxes and other hidden costs.

Airlines would also be required to publish the air fares on their websites or in newspapers and any significant change in tariff will have to be brought to DGCA’s notice within 24 hours.