DGCA should examine airlines’ tariff structure, says Bench

In a relief to passengers, the Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained the Federation of Indian Airlines from levying a transaction fee, in any form or in any name, on them while booking tickets.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain and Madan B. Lokur gave the ruling came on an appeal against a Delhi High Court order that rejected the plea of a petitioner challenging the levy. It also directed the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation to examine the tariff structure of the airlines in view of the wide range of their base prices. The base price was in several bands, ranging in some cases from Rs.1,120 to 36,566.

“We regret to note that despite a provision… not to charge transaction fee, the DGCA failed to enforce its own direction. It needs our immediate intervention… We are of the view that the circular of the DGCA, dated December 17, 2012, is still in vogue, and transaction fee cannot be charged by the airlines,” the Bench said.

Counsel for the petitioner said the airlines introduced the transaction fee after they adopted a zero commission policy for their agents.

Under transaction fee, the agents charged customers an amount of their choice, and it was not uniform.

Justice Jain observed: “We cannot shut our eyes when the circular is being violated and the DGCA is not able to enforce it. There is a lack of transparency… and poor passengers do not know what is happening.”

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