DGCA orders airlines to reduce fares

Jun 19, 2012, 06:38 IST | Bipin Kumar Singh

Following MiD DAY's report on airfares rising despite oil companies rolling back prices, DGCA officials come down heavily on domestic airlines

A day after MiD DAY carried a report about the skyrocketing airfares despite the fuel prices dropping, (Airfares soars even as fuel price falls), the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked all domestic airlines to re-examine their fares and make reasonable changes.

Relief for flyers: According to the official statement, a 5-20 per cent cut in prices was discussed at the meeting yesterday. File pic

DGCA chief E K Bharat Bhushan called a meeting of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all domestic airlines and expressed concern over the exponential increase in fares on various domestic sectors yesterday. “I have spoken to the CEOs and have asked them to examine the fares and publish the revised tariff sheet on their respective websites,” Bharat Bhushan told MiD DAY.

During the meeting it was also proposed that airlines would reduce fares. “Scheduled domestic airlines have now proposed a reduction of airfares in the highest fare bucket (see box) on various routes in the domestic network by 5 to 20 per cent,” the statement read.

Happy flyers
The decision to slash prices has brought smiles on the faces of travellers. Devang Sanghvi of Venus Holidays, Andheri, said, “If the 20 per cent cut is implemented it will be a big relief for flyers.” Echoing the same sentiments, Ajay Prakash, president of Travel Agents Federation of India said, “If the cut is implemented, the news will come as a big relief for flyers. A certain degree of sanity will be brought about in the market. However, the big question is whether the airlines will reduce the fares or not? Also, another question is if the DGCA will monitor the prices properly or not.”

In addition to a price cut being contemplated, other issues were also discussed at the meeting. Officials pointed out that they had found huge variations in the highest published fare by different airlines. “Airfares do not show an increasing trend as the date of departure edges closer.

Many a times, fares of higher inventory are opened and then lowered as the date of departure approaches. This may result in passengers who buy tickets at the last minute spending lesser than those booking much in advance,” read a statement by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (As per rules, airfares must be priced lower and become more expensive as the date of departure edges closer).

Bhushan said that passenger traffic in May this year has seen a downward swing over the corresponding period of last month but the fares have seen a disproportionate spurt. “Airlines have been directed to address the above issues in a time bound manner,” the statement further read.

Airlines speak
>> Kamal Kikani, vice-president, customer relations of Go Air said, “We are working on the updates and changes will be seen very soon.”
>> A Spicejet airline spokesperson said, “No decision has been taken as of now so we would like not to comment on the issue.”
>> The Jet Airways spokesperson said, “We have no such information.”
>> Air India spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
>> A query sent to Kingfisher spokesperson remained unanswered at the time of going to press.

Lower bucket and highest bucket
The airline decides fares on two factors. One is the opening fare, which is also known as lower bucket. The fares in this category are significantly cheaper. The other category is closing fare better known as highest bucket and fares in this category are relatively high. The number of seat distribution in both the categories is the sole discretion of airline concerned. 

End strike immediately, Ajit Singh tells pilots
Continuing his tough stance, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh yesterday termed the Air India pilots' strike as “illegal” and asked all striking pilots to resume work immediately.

End strike immediately, Ajit Singh tells pilots
Hitting out at the 400 Air India pilots of the derecognised Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), Ajit Singh said there is no common grounds for talks between the management and the pilots. “They (the pilots) who are on strike have no intention to return to work. I sat with them over three hours trying to understand their problems.

Talking point: Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Ajit Singh at a press briefing yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK 

They bring out new conditions and then reject it themselves,” an irritated minister told media persons at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. He made it clear that his ministry held talks with the protesting pilots at every level, but there no was no solution, so now the Air India management is making new arrangements to tackle the situation.

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