Ahead of civil Aviation Ministry, MPs allege private airlines misguiding public

Ahead of civil Aviation Ministry, MPs allege private airlines misguiding public

The exorbitant airfares that domestic airlines are charging have attracted the attention of a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which concluded that these companies are misguiding the public and pushing passengers to pay more.

The Committee pointed out the inaccurate information provided by the private airlines on their websites regarding the number of seats left on the flight and the cost of the tickets, according to an IANS report.

The number of seats shown on the website, as indicated before the ticket sales, is a sign of misinformation, according to the Demand for Grants 2023 -- 24 report of the Civil Aviation Ministry. This shows that airline operators are misguiding the public and forcing passengers to pay more. It was suggested that the Ministry should develop appropriate guidelines regarding the rationalisation of fares and the publication of accurate information on airline websites, considering the behaviour of the airlines.

A particular airline may sell its air tickets at such a low level that other competitors can't compete and have to leave the market, according to the report. A company that does this will see initial losses but eventually benefits by bringing competition out of the market and raising its prices. The Committee wanted to know if the DGCA, the agency that regulates aviation, had ever stepped in to verify the prices of airline tickets. It also raised concerns about the fact that private airlines in the domestic market charge different prices for flights that are travelling in the same sector, route, and direction. This is particularly true for the northeastern region and hilly regions, such as Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, where domestic flight ticket costs may exceed those charged by foreign airlines.

After the repeal of the Air Corporations Act 1953, the Committee took note of the fact that airfare is market driven and dependent on market fares, and is neither established nor regulated by the government.

The report notes that airlines are free to fix reasonable tariffs under the Aircraft Rules, 1937, with regard to cost of operation, services, reasonable profit and generally prevailing tariffs, because of the fact that the airfares were regulated for a fixed period during the Covid epidemic in compliance with the Aircraft Act, 1934.

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