Saturday, May 30, 2020

Can recognise limits on airfares as a short term measure, says AirAsia CEO

AirAsia India can appreciate limits placed on airfares as it is a "very very short term" measure, its CEO and MD Sunil Bhaskaran on Friday said, adding that the airlines and the market should ideally be left alone when it comes to deciding ticket prices. On May 21, the central government issued coronavirus-related guidelines to restart domestic flights from May 25 and prescribed a lower limit and upper limit on airfares after setting up seven categories of routes as per the flight duration. It clarified the fare limits would be in place till August 24.

"Ideally, we would like it to be a free market, as far as prices are concerned. But given the circumstances and as a very very short term measure, we can appreciate it (limits on fares)," said the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the low-cost carrier at a webinar of aviation consultancy firm CAPA India.

"We can understand this. But I don't think this could ever be or this should be a permanent measure. The market has to be left (alone) and the airlines have to be left (alone) to decide," he added. Domestic passenger services restarted after a gap of two months on Monday when 428 flights carried around 30,000 passengers to their destinations.

When asked about the passenger traffic since Monday, Bhaskaran said, "We do feel that the pent up demand may last for two or three weeks and it is up to us and the airports to bring the confidence in people to travel...Quite frankly, we have taken a more pessimistic view of how things would be or may be conservative. We would be very happy to see an upside to what we have planned."

When asked which routes the aircraft are likely to see high traffic in the next few months, he replied, "When we see it, one big factor is the quarantine rules in the state and how clear it is to understand and whether there is an institutional quarantine." He said when a plane goes outside of Bengaluru, it has been seeing good loads (number of passengers) since Monday, but when it comes back to Bengaluru, it has abysmal loads because people don't want to come and go into institutional quarantine.
30/05/20 PTI/Business Today
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