You will no longer have to worry about arbitrary airfare hikes as domestic airlines on Saturday set a cap on the maximum fare that they can charge fliers. The move came after carriers were asked by the aviation regulator to set an upper limit on fares across all routes.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked seven domestic airlines to set the limit and upload the details on their websites after most of them hiked fares by around 25% in three days. The carriers had increased fares citing the weakening value of the rupee, increase in jet fuel costs and the poor financial situation.
"We can't regulate fares. But we have asked airlines to submit limits to bring in transparency. This would give fliers a rough idea of their budget before planning a trip," said Arun Mishra, DGCA chief. The upper limits will be applicable at least till the Diwali peak season, he added.
Jet Airways fixed the maximum price for a Mumbai-Delhi economy class ticket at Rs. 20,700, while the upper limit for an Indigo ticket on the same sector has been set at Rs14,099.
Travel operators said the move was much needed as there have been several instances of airlines selling tickets at "astronomical" prices, particularly during festive seasons.
"Such declaration of fare limits would curb airlines from hiking spot fares. There have been instances wherein the last few seats in a packed flight were sold at seven to eight times the normal rate," said a Colaba-based travel agent.
Meanwhile, frequent fliers want the DGCA to closely monitor if the airlines adhere to the price chart submitted to the regulator. "The DGCA's job does not end at merely getting the price chart. Offenders should be tracked and punished," said Bikram Awasthi, an Andheri-based entrepreneur, who shuttles between various metros at least twice a week.
"The DGCA's fare monitoring unit is keeping a track on adherence to fare buckets submitted by airlines," said Lalit Gupta, deputy director general, DGCA.