‘Centre must rein in high airfares’

Travel agents take up the cause of air passengers

The steep hike in airfare in the range of 25-30% and in some cases double or triple the usual fare in the summer season has prompted members of the travel trade to demand urgent intervention of the government to ensure additional capacity for protecting the interests of air passengers.

The disruption has been caused by the complete grounding of Jet Airways and of a dozen Boeing 737 Max planes on account of technical glitches.

Travel agents said high fares will continue till Jet Airways is revived or equal capacity is created by other airlines. “There is no respite to high fares. Air passengers are suffering as fares have gone up in the range of 20-30%,” said Sunil Kumar Rumala, president, Travel Agents Association of India.

“This trend will continue as other airlines are benefiting at the cost of helpless passengers. That is why we are requesting the government to take urgent steps to revive Jet Airways as the domestic market cannot afford to suddenly lose a large airline.

“Airlines are pocketing 100s of crores by charging more. There is no initiative from the government to lock fares at a certain level. This has given freedom to airlines to charge as much they like and fleece passengers,” he added.

‘No new capacity added’

John Nair, head, business travel, Cox & Kings, said fares were bound to grow as no new capacity is being added and the additional demand during the summer holiday had aggravated the situation.

Subhash Goyal, chairman, Assocham Expert Committee on Tourism & Hospitality, said, “Fares must be capped to protect passengers from being exploited by airlines.” He said if the normal fare between Mumbai and Delhi is ₹4,000, “the highest slab must be capped at ₹8,000. Nothing more.”

“Summer vacation has created more demand and Jet’s absence has aggravated the situation. Now supply has to increase and govt should look into it,” he said.

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