There's extortion by airlines, says Kurien

There's extortion by airlines, says Kurien

Amid demand for regulating airfares in Rajya Sabha, its Deputy Chairman P J Kurien Wednesday said airlines are resorting to extortion of passengers.

"This is a very important issue. There is extortion by airlines, especially during festival seasons. They are selling tickets at exorbitant fares.  Government should take some action," Kurien said, as Congress MP Rajiv Shukla raised the issue.

Kurien's comments came as several members supported Shukla's demand during the Zero Hour for setting up an airfare regulatory authority to look at fares. Shukla, a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture that deals with the Civil Aviation Ministry, said private airlines were fixing fares "arbitrarily" and their tickets were priced exorbitantly.

He said the issue is important since it is not just the wealthy that travel by air, but even the weaker sections do.

He said the airlines are not passing the benefits of the drop in ATF to the passengers, which should have resulted as lower ticket fares.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukthar Abbas Naqvi assured the House that the government would do the needful.

The issue of regulating airfares has been coming up in the Parliament frequently and is raised in Question Hour. 

On March 2, the Lok Sabha dealt with three questions on airfare, while there was one question on March 9.

Answering posers on arbitrary regulation of airfares, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma told Lok Sabha that the government does not fix airfares and the airlines are free to fix reasonable tariff after factoring in the operational cost, reasonable profit and generally prevailing tariff.

He said the DGCA has issued instructions to airlines to display their tariff sheet on their websites in various fare categories.

The DGCA has also set up a Tariff Monitoring Group in 2010 that monitors airfares on certain routes selected on random basis to ensure that the airlines do not charge airfares outside the range declared by them.

“The random analysis has shown that the airfares remained well within the fare bucket uploaded by the airlines on their respective websites,” Sharma said.

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