Flying low-cost seems like a distant dream, as airfares have almost doubled in the last three months. The reason: the mounting losses and the internal problems plaguing Air India and Kingfisher has led to uncertainty in operations leading to rival airlines having a field day at the expense of passengers. According to Devang Sanghvi of Venus Holidays in Andheri, “There’s no doubt that the airfares have doubled in the last two to three months. In February-March, we booked one-way trips for our clients to Delhi for Rs 3,500-4,000. However, as of today, the airfare is Rs 8,000. Even if the recent airport surcharge hike at Delhi airport is considered, these fares are relatively high. The two major airlines Kingfisher and Air India have lost value owing to frequent operational failures as a result of which other airlines are increasing their fares significantly.”
He added, “When we quote these prices to our customers, they are shocked. The fares on the other sectors too have been affected.” Echoing the same sentiments, Pradip Lulla of Cupid Travels said, “Just a few months ago, the average airfare for Delhi was Rs 4,000. However, today, it is as high as Rs 7,500. One of the reasons for the increase is because passengers are hesitant to travel with Kingfisher and Air India, causing others to hike their prices.”
“In January I booked five Delhi-bound return tickets for my family. I paid a total of Rs 39,000 for the tickets. Four months later, I booked the same tickets and this time it is costing me not less than Rs 75,000. For a salaried person like me the fares are not only arbitrary but also impossible to book,” said Lokhandwala based software engineer Sanjay Sharma (29) who has extended his leave by two days because he is now travelling by train.
And if passenger bodies are to be believed, the hike in airfares is owing to the lack of a monitoring agency to check the arbitrary attitude of airlines towards travellers. “It is true that the airfares have increased in the last six months. This is because the government has no control over it. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also has very little power to control such things. We have been demanding for an aviation regulatory body, but the government has shown little interest in it,” said Sudhakar Reddy, president, Air passengers Association of India (APAI).
When contacted, DGCA chief, E K Bharatbhushan said, “Though the airfares are decided by market forces, we are starting a trend from Friday where we will match the airfares now and the airfares from two months ago. If something comes out in it, we will decide our course of action.”
Airfares: Then and now (one-way trips)
Delhi: Three months ago, the one-way airfare was Rs 3,500-4,000. Today, the airfare has skyrocketed to Rs 8,000 minimum
Kolkata: The airfare has risen from Rs 5,500 to Rs 8,500
Chennai: The average fare has increased from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,500