Domestic flights' fare band cannot be permanent feature: Hardeep Singh Puri
Replying to a question in Parliament on Wednesday, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said fare band on domestic flights can't be a permanent feature and it is expected that when airlines which are now operating 80 per cent of their pre-Covid capacity resume their full services, they won't need fare band.
The Centre fixed fare band when airlines resumed their services in May 2020, after the national lockdown. In this process, the ministry determined the ceiling price of tickets so that passengers are not overcharged. "The floor and ceiling price was an extraordinary measure which was necessitated by am extraordinary situation which we found ourselves in. It is designed to ensure that airlines in a situation of limited availability did not charge exorbitant prices. It is not our intention and can not be in an open market deregulated situation to have the fare band made a permanent feature," the minister said.
Replying to a question from AIADMK MP M Thambidurai on exorbitant airfares that he faced while flying between Delhi and Chennai, Hardeep Singh Puri said the fare band the ministry imposed on airlines during Covid-19 pandemic pertains to only economy classes, not to the privilege of business classes that MP Thambidurai availed.
"The price band was confined to only economy class, not to business class...this also depends on when you are booking your tickets. If you are booking your business class tickets 60 days in advance, then the airlines might offer you a cheaper rate, but if you are booking just a day ahead, then the tickets are dearer. Airfare depends on the market. It is not something the Centre decides," he said.
Talking about the overall loss of the aviation sector, the minister said, "Nobody has an overall figure on the losses, though IATA and some others put a fantastic figure on it. But the sector is reviving."