“The Rs 3,000 fee is in many cases more than the price of the ticket itself,” Aviation minister Jayant Sinha told the Times of India, hitting the nail on its pricey head, in the latest rounds of corrections, fixes and overhauls the government is making in the aviation sector.
Responding to numerous complaints about the nearly doubling of cancellation charges by airlines over the past one year, the government has said it will ask airlines to reduce the fees to something more balanced.
Speaking to the Times of India, Sinha said, “We believe cancellation charges are on the high side and onerous for passengers. Our UDAN (subsidised regional flying) scheme has capped fares at Rs 2,500 per hour of flying.
These cancellation charges need to be brought back into balance.”
This is seen as a direct response to the recent spate of cancellation price hikes by various airlines. According to a report in the Business Standard, Indigo had recently hiked its cancellation charges first to Rs 2250, and now to Rs 3000 for domestic travel. Other airlines have followed suit, making Rs 3000 almost the industry standard.
The present government has aggressively pushed for air travel, and the country has seen nearly a doubling of air travellers over the past three years. While a large number of these are first-time fliers with little idea about rates or their rights, the high cancellation charges also discourage long-term planning, since cancelling a ticket may prove nearly as expensive as the ticket itself.
The recent incidents of bad behaviour by airline staff, and a general increase in the costs of everything, from luggage to food on planes, has also increased the demands for stricter controls on the airlines.
Speaking to reporters, Sinha said, “We are preparing a Passengers Bill of Rights by looking at best practices globally. It will be a robust and balanced document to protect consumer rights,”