Flyers will now have to give their Aadhaar number at the time of booking their air tickets.
The system, introduced recently by national carrier Air India and Jet Airways, has not been made mandatory as yet. However, the government is learnt to be mulling options of making it mandatory to link air travel with one’s Aadhaar number.
As the first step in this direction, full service flights operated by Air India and Jet have made it optional to seek Aadhaar numbers of flyers before booking their air tickets, even on domestic sectors. Passport details are mandatory for booking international air tickets.
While airlines are trying to play it down by saying that Aadhaar numbers were being sought only for identification purpose, travel agents said they would allow the government to have a complete database on flyers.
“Once the government has a complete database, it can subsequently track flyers’ annual expenditure on air travel and match it with their income tax returns,” said Sanjeev Kumar, proprietor of Mamata Travels, one of the six members of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) in Patna.
He said the airlines were already sharing frequent flyer data with different agencies.
“For instance, the Jet Airways shared its frequent flyer data with Etihad Airways after the latter picked up 50.1% stake in Jet Airways frequent flyer programme for $150 million (over Rs 900 crore), completing the hive off of the airline’s loyalty business,” said Kumar.
“We received a communication from our commercial department on January 9 to input in PNR Aadhaar number of flyers, only as a form of identification. This is optional and not mandatory at this point of time,” said Air India station manager, Patna, Mukesh Kumar.
Airlines officials and travel agents said the directive, being optional, was not being enforced strictly.