Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel on Saturday said that airfares that had risen astronomically in the last month will stabilise within a week.
“I am sure that within a week you will find corrective action being taken (by airlines),” Mr. Patel told reporters here.
Mr. Patel also said that in case of remedial action not taken by air-carriers, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DCGA) was empowered to take actions as would benefit air travellers.
“The regulator is not helpless. It should not be presumed that the regulator cannot take action. I am sure they can and they will when the situation warrants,” the Minister said.
In Delhi, top executives of three low cost airlines — Spicejet, Indigo and GoAir — were called for discussions on the issue by Director General of Civil Aviation E.K. Bharat Bhushan.
“The whole purpose is to ensure that there is some reasonableness about the fares,” Mr. Bhushan, who was appointed to the post only on Friday, told reporters after the meeting.
He said he has called representatives of full service airlines — Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines — for discussions on Monday.
The airlines’ proposal of kilometre-based fare slabs was rejected earlier this week by the Civil Aviation Ministry which maintained there was “no justification” for fare hike in an “arbitrary manner“.
As per the proposals, the airfares were quoted by the airlines for four distance slabs of less than 750 km, 750—-1,000 km, 1,000-1,400 km and beyond 1,400 km.
Under it, a passenger buying an economy class ticket closer to the travel date may have to shell out Rs 10,500 for a Delhi-Chandigarh or Chennai-Coimbatore flight and anything upto Rs 40,000 on the Delhi-Bangalore or Delhi-Kolkata route.
“We have told them we want some predictability and fairness in the fares which they charge, which we are trying to enforce,” Mr. Bhushan said.
Vijay Mallya unhappy
In Bangalore, Kinghfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya lashed out at DGCA’s attempts to rein in the prices and wanted the government to cut the “excessive” sales tax on the Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF).
“Why should government regulate anything in an era of deregulation and competition,” he asked.
“An airlines seat is a perishable commodity. It is dictated by demand and supply. Dynamic pricing is practiced all over the world by every airline without exception. I do not understand why we are making a song and dance of it in India,” Mr. Mallya said.
“I would request the Government of India on bringing down the highly excessive sales tax on ATF, which we are willing to pass on to the consumers immediately,” Mr. Mallya said.