Govt will find ways to check air fares: Raju

Govt will find ways to check air fares: Raju
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the government will find out ways to address complaints of exorbitant air fares.

Raju said, “Regulating airfare is a complicated situation (facing the sector) and does not have simplistic answers,” but assured members that he understood their sentiments and would try to find a way out.

The minister, however, did not appear favourable to the idea of setting minimum and maximum limits saying there are people who are buying tickets in advance at lower rates.
He also said that setting up a regulatory mechanism would mean “caps and floors” which would have implications for the ailing civil aviation sector.

Raju said that air fares are not fixed by the government and determined by the interplay of market forces. Airlines are free to fix “reasonable” fares keeping in mind factors like cost of operations, reasonable profit and generally prevailing tariff.

While the idea was to take air travel to the common man, “Lots of costs go into it which reflect in tickets,” he said.On the issue of reduction in aviation fuel prices, he said that it is a highly taxed item and he has written to chief ministers urging them to reduce sales and other taxes on jet fuel.

However, not satisfied with his answer, the Congress, SP, CPI, CPI-M and JD(U) staged a walkout.

RS wants regulator

Earlier in the day, cutting across party lines, members in the Rajya Sabha asked the government to take steps and create a regulatory mechanism to ensure that Indian carriers do not charge “arbitrary and exorbitant” air fares from travellers.

The demand was made when the House was discussing a calling attention motion on huge disparity in air fares charged by airlines moved by SP member Naresh Agrawal.
Maintaining that most airlines were facing a financial crunch and are not making profits, the minister said that while  Kingfisher Airlines has “crashed”, Spicejet, too, faced turbulence.

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