A move by budget carriers to charge for check-in baggage was rejected by the government on Saturday, which was not in favour of putting this monetary burden on the passengers and wanted the present system to continue.
Minister of state for civil aviation Mahesh Sharma said the airlines concerned had approached the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to approve their proposal but the government has not accepted the request. "We have got the proposal from low-cost flights to charge for check-in baggage. We have rejected it and there will be no consideration at the Aviation Ministry level. We will not want to put this burden on passengers," Sharma said.
Sharma said the proposal, if accepted, will be a "dampener" in air traffic growth in India.
"Such a move, if allowed to go ahead will be a dampener in air traffic growth in India. I have asked the DGCA not to consider the proposal at this stage. "Air Travel in India is likely to see a growth as more middle class Indians are expected to take to air travel. And if they have to shell out even for 1kg of check-in, it will discourage them," Sharma told PTI.
"I want the airline to continue with the present system (of allowing upto 15kg free check-in baggage) and at the same time provide incentives to those flyers who travel light," he added. Sharma said that his ministry has asked the airlines to send a detailed proposal on the issue and if it is found to be in the interest of the passengers, the government may consider it.
DGCA is looking into a proposal made by three Indian carriers by which travellers will have to shell out for every kilogram of the checked luggage. The proposal, at the same time, envisages providing incentives for passengers who travel light.
A senior DGCA official said on Friday that SpiceJet, Indigo and AirAsia have approached the regulator with the idea of 'zero baggage fare', where passengers having no check-in luggage would be given a discount on the ticket. When contacted, a SpiceJet official on Saturday said the March 2015 circular of the DGCA allows airlines to unbundle services.
An AirAsia India official said he was not aware of the government stand while an IndiGo spokesperson could not immediately be contacted for his response.
Other airlines, including full-service carriers, are also reported to be in favour of 'zero baggage fare'. Such a system would do away with the current practice of passengers being allowed to carry up to 15kg of check-in luggage free of cost.
In April this year, DGCA had allowed domestic carriers to unbundle their services and charge separately for facilities such as preferred seats, meals on board and use of lounges.