Regulator asks airlines to explain fare hike

February 12th, 2009 - 6:21 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 12 (IANS) A day after Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel warned airline operators against “cartelisation”, the aviation regulator Thursday asked them to explain the reason for hiking fares and the measures that would be taken to maintain transparency in airfare advertising.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in a statement Thursday said: “All domestic airlines had increased their airfares simultaneously in the second week of February. The DGCA is not aware of the reasons for this, specifically at a time when the ATF (aviation turbine fuel) prices, which were effective from February 1, are at the level that they were in 2005.”

Saying that it felt there appeared to be “no rationale for increasing the airfares”, the DGCA added that all airlines would have to furnish detailed information and justification behind the fare hike by Feb 14.

The DGCA noted that airfares displayed on the websites of the airline operators comprise - apart from the basic fare - several components such as fuel surcharge, congestion charge and passenger service fee (PSF), “all loosely labelled as taxes”.

“This aspect gives an impression to the travelling public that high airfares are due to government taxes, which is wrong,” the aviation regulator stressed.

“Airlines must display the fare as one composite fare, correctly indicating the charges accruing to the airlines,” DGCA said.

The move comes two days after Indian carriers, including budget airlines, withdrew promotional fares and hiked base tariff. Among them was the state-owned Air India, which only months earlier announced a Rs.99 base promotional fare on domestic routes.

After the civil aviation minister’s statement Wednesday, low-cost carrier JetLite introduced a promotional base fare of Re.1 on sectors that included premier routes: Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi- Hyderabad, and Mumbai-Chennai routes. Air fuel and other surcharges were, however, extra.

JetLite’s parent carrier, Jet Airways, too announced a promotional base fare of Rs.300 on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Goa, Delhi-Jaipur, Delhi-Srinagar, Kolkata-Bagdogra, Kolkata-Jorhat, Chennai-Kochi, Chennai-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Indore sectors.

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