Civil Aviation Ministry hints at capping airfares

Civil Aviation Ministry hints at capping airfares

In a clear signal on capping airfares, the Civil Aviation Ministry today said mechanisms would be put in place to curb predatory pricing ways of airlines.

The latest move comes against the backdrop of rising concerns expressed in various quarters, including by the Parliamentarians, over steep fluctuations in airfares.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said here today that something needs to be done on predatory pricing of airfares. He also emphasised that the efforts would be made with a consensus among airlines on the matter.

"We have taken some initiatives... The process has been initiated. We will try to evolve consensus among airlines and if they do not come on board, we will have to look at other options," he said.

Urging DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to put in place some mechanism to check steep variations in the price of air tickets could also be one of the options, he noted.

Earlier, over 100 Parliamentarians had written to the ministry raising concerns over the movement of air fares and most of them were also in favour of regulating the prices.

"Predatory pricing by the airlines is a big issue. A large section of the public and even parliamentarians have raised the issue that the airlines charge Rs 30,000-40,000 for a ticket when a passengers has to travel in some emergency," Sharma had said last month.

However, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has on several occasions in the past said that putting caps and floors for airfares would have their own implications and that pricing should be left to the carriers to decide.

Interestingly, the ministry had last year circulated a note for internal discussion wherein it suggested steps to cap airfares at minimum and maximum levels for the economy class.

Fair trade watchdog CCI is looking at the arbitrary airfare hike issue and possible cartelisation by the carriers.

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