India may cap air fares to curtail ‘exorbitant pricing’ by airlines

A panel of the Indian parliament is seeking to cap airfares because it is claimed airlines have not passed the reduction in jet fuel prices to consumers.

The panel claims Indian carriers are charging exorbitant and unfair airfares during festival and holiday seasons, during natural disasters and any political unrest, taking advantage of the urgency and immediate need of the fliers to travel. The panel noted: “Even after a 50 per cent reduction of the aviation turbine fuel prices, the airlines have not passed on the benefits to the consumers.”

The panel believes they are charging up to 10 times the base fares in high season and has proposed that social welfare and affordability for all segments must be kept in mind and has sought the help of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to cap airfares on all sectors.

Other factors contributing to the disenchantment with the rampaging growth of Indian carriers is the arbitrary cancellation charges which have been proposed to be set at not more than 10 per cent of the base fare; inadequate legroom and seating pace in most aircraft as well as poor quality food sold on flights and high cost.

The report tabled by the panel headed by Member of Parliament, Derek O’Brien stated: “A deregulatory environment does not mean unlimited freedom of exploitation. Windfall profits cannot be taken from the hapless passengers, especially from those working class passengers who are travelling in the Arabian Gulf sectors.”

However, airline sources argue that pricing is a perishable commodity determined by market forces, which is the normal global practice.