It’s the holiday season, and everyone is in a rush to go home and meet their loved ones. While train tickets are at a premium, unless you have booked tickets months in advance, the next best option is to book a flight on a commercial airline. However, if you choose to exercise this option, it is likely that you’ll have to fork out an exorbitant amount.
“At present, airfares are neither controlled nor approved by the government,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. Airlines have all the necessary leeway to fix the “responsible” tariff under the Aircraft Rules, 1937, “having regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, characteristics of service, reasonable profit and the generally prevailing tariff,” it added.
The Ministry even went onto suggest that “the airline pricing system runs in multiple levels (buckets or RBDs) which are in line with practice being followed globally.”
Tell that to an average passenger flying from Delhi to Leh in July where a one-way 75-minute flight in Economy class goes for approximately Rs 12,000.
Responding to the claims made by the Ministry, the Parliamentary Standing Committee made some key suggestions.
Given below are five things you should know.
1) Rejecting the government’s position on tariffs being fixed as per “global practices,” the committee said that airlines are sometimes charging more than ten times of the advance booking fare during the holiday season. “The Committee strongly feels that an upper cap of airfare in each sector is the need of the hour to discourage the airlines from predatory pricing of air tickets,” the report said.
2) The committee also “desires that concerted efforts shall be consistently made by the Ministry to prevail upon different airlines not only to make available more and more low-fare bucket seats but also to keep the airfares at a minimum affordable level for the benefit of common man.”
3) “The Committee recommends that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) should come forward to regulate baggage charges and airfares in such a way to facilitate and benefit the air passengers,” the report said.
4) In response to incidents of unruly behaviour by airline staff, the committee has suggested that the Ministry establish a proper monitoring system to ensure employees stay in line. In the event an airline staff is found to have engaged in unruly behaviour, it has recommended heavy penalties.
5) Airlines must be restricted to charging not more than 50% of the base fare as cancellation charges. This is a reiteration of a past recommendation made by the committee.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)