Wait gets longer for transparency in fixing airfares

A group set up by the civil aviation ministry to recommend measures to bring transparency in the fixing of airfares is unlikely to submit its report by December 30, because its meeting with the aviation regulator, last week, turned fruitless.

The ministry had created a first-of-its-kind group of representatives from a passengers’ body, travel trade, airport operators and airline CEOs to submit a report on passenger concerns, airfares in particular by December 30. But group members claim that the Bharat Bhushan, who heads the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), left the maiden meeting halfway.

“I wasted the whole day travelling all the way to Delhi from Chennai for the meeting but it was futile because we did not get enough time to discuss the issues affecting fliers,” said Sudhakar Reddy, national president, Air Passenger Association of India, a member of the group. The other members of the group are Rajji Rai, president, Travel Agents Association of India, advertising professional Dilip Cherrian, aviation analyst Kapil Kaul and representatives from Air India and Indigo Airlines.

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel created the group after airfares doubled since mid-November. With most top ministry officials on leave for the New Year, the date of the next meeting is not clear.

The two points raised in the December 24 meeting were that about 15 aircraft, which roughly amount to five per cent of domestic fleet size, are grounded because of maintenance, repainting, etc. “That cut down supply by approximately by 10,000 passenger seats daily. Air tickets could have been cheaper if they were operational,” added Reddy.

The other point raised was whether the DGCA monitors the percentage of aircraft diverted on international routes by domestic carrier. “It should be mandatory for all domestic carriers to maintain a particular fleet size before allowing them to operate international flights,” he added.

 

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