Frequent fliers have opposed the civil aviation ministry’s recent revision of the airfare unbundling policy, saying the revision was not discussed with passengers.
The policy, introduced in 2013, had allowed the unbundling of airfares, which meant domestic airlines could charge separately for frills such as pre-booked meals, excess baggage and seats with legroom. It had also set a cap of 25% on levying extra charges on seats.
Two months ago, the ministry it revised to 100%, a move the fliers are unhappy with.
In a note sent to the civil aviation ministry on Friday, the Air Passengers’ Association of India (APAI), a non-profit body formed by frequent fliers, said the revision was done without discussing the issue with passengers and that the policy, which was aimed at bringing down airfares, is ostensibly making air travel expensive for many fliers.
“While the policy was introduced with the aim of making air travel affordable for more people, there has been little indication of airfares coming down. On the contrary, the policy has made air travel more expensive,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president, APAI.
“For instance, if a person travelling with his wife and child is told he will have to pay extra for the three of them to sit on a single row, the traveller will have to spend extra,” Reddy said.
The body also pointed out airlines charge Rs 600 to Rs 1,000 for seat preference, which accounts for up to 30% of the ticket cost.
The fliers’ group said the concept has worked in matured aviation markets that actually have ‘genuine no-frill carriers’. “In India, we do not have no-frill airlines, except Air Asia India. There is barely any difference in the fare structure,” said Reddy.
The ministry spokesperson did not comment.