Frequent fliers demand an airfare regulatory body | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Frequent fliers demand an airfare regulatory body

The Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), a body formed by frequent air travellers, said it has seen a spike complaints against surge pricing.

mumbai Updated: Feb 27, 2017 00:28 IST
Soubhik Mitra
At least two governments had promised capping airfares, particularly during holidays but failed.
At least two governments had promised capping airfares, particularly during holidays but failed.(Pic for Representation)

A fliers’ body has asked the government to set up a separate regulator to monitor seasonal spikes in airfares. The Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), a body formed by frequent air travellers, said it has seen a spike complaints against surge pricing. The trend was mainly observed around long weekends or during emergencies such as weather-induced flight disruptions, its office bearers said.

“A recent complainant said a domestic airline charged Rs37,000 for an economy class one-way trip from Goa to Mumbai. This kind of obscene price hikes are not acceptable. The government must set up a separate body to look into such issues,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president with the APAI.

But industry experts said capping airfares is unlikely in any free market. “Such demands have surfaced earlier but the civil aviation ministry was unable to bring any relief for passengers,” said a senior executive with an aviation think tank requesting anonymity.

But Reddy argued that surge pricing is harsh on people forced to travel during rush periods. “A person forced to travel around a long weekend to see his or her ill relative is asked to pay five to six times the normal fare. Is that fair?”

A fare study by travel operator Cox and Kings Ltd last month showed a sharp rise in airfares around long weekends. According to the study, two days ahead of the Republic Day weekend airfares had nearly doubled.

For instance, the price of an economy class Mumbai-Goa return trip, one of the shortest domestic routes in India, was Rs29,000.The same journey a week later would cost you Rs16,800, the report stated. On some routes the fare difference was more than 100%.

A Delhi-Udaipur return flight was priced at Rs18,200 as opposed Rs8,100 over the February 3-5 weekend.

The most expensive domestic flight over the Republic Day weekend until Monday was one from Delhi to Port Blair. The flight scheduled to leave from the capital on January 25 afternoon was priced at Rs55,200 – almost the cost of a return trip from the US.

At least two governments had promised capping airfares, particularly during holidays but failed. The Ashok Gajapathi Raju-led ministry , however, made it compulsory for airlines to submit a break-up of the steepest air tickets on a flight and the portion of the revenue earned through them. Experts added that while that move could give an indication of fare hikes during peak season it does not help distressed fliers trapped in a long weekend.

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