Govt tells airlines to keep fares at affordable levels

The government has asked rival airlines to not indulge in predatory pricing following the grounding of Jet Airways.

A day after embattled Jet Airlines was grounded, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola asked airlines to keep fares at affordable levels and not indulge in predatory pricing.

During a meeting with representatives of airlines on Thursday, Kharola also said that 440 slots vacated by Jet Airways at Delhi and Mumbai airports would be allocated to other airlines on an interim basis.

Aviation regulator DGCA said it would ask the airline for a “concrete and credible” revival plan and extend help within the regulatory framework.

Employees protest

Hundreds of Jet’s retrenched employees protested at different locations in the country, demanding immediate government intervention to end the crisis.

As rival airlines benefited from the fall of Jet, some of its staffers protesting at Jantar Mantar along with their families demanded to know who was benefiting from the crisis. “Whose gain is it finally? The airlines? The employees? The government? We want to know is it a sin to work for the private sector. What are we going to tell our children,” asked employees.

A similar protest was held at Jet Airways’ headquarters in Mumbai, where Kiran Pawaskar, Leader of Jet Airways’ Officers & Staff Association, sought to know why the State Bank of India was dragging its feet after it had offered to lend Rs 1,500 crore on the condition that founder-promoter Naresh Goyal would resign.

There was more bad news for Jet on the stock markets as share prices nosedived by 31.5%. The gainers were SpiceJet, whose shares closed 2.7% higher while IndiGo was up by 1.7%.

Rivals make hay

The shutdown of Jet has hurt passengers the most, with airfares for flights originating from Delhi and Bengaluru having gone up by as much as 19% while fares for flights from Mumbai are up by 36%.

The crisis in India’s once largest airline has come at the peak holiday season. This has given an opportunity to rivals, with SpiceJet promising to add 27 planes in the next two weeks and 24 new flights from Mumbai and Delhi.

“The industry is currently facing a severe shortage of capacity and SpiceJet remains committed to making all possible efforts to minimize passenger inconvenience,” Ajay Singh, SpiceJet’s chairman said in a statement.

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