Sunday, June 07, 2020

Rush for Air India flights, but doubts raised over rates, fuel charges

Debate erupted on social media platform Twitter on June 6, over allegations that Air India was charging fuel charges twice on fares for flights part of the Vande Bharat Mission.
Twitter users pointed out that the national carrier twice charged for fuel costs. First, as part of the 'fare,' and additionally as fuel surcharge.
Joining the debate, Shakti Lumba, an aviation veteran and former Executive Director, Airline Operations (Alliance Air), and Vice President, Ops (IndiGo), wondered why there was no fare cap on international flights run by Air India. "Vande Bharat is a self-created monopoly market after banning international flights," he said.
The government had banned international flights after the national lockdown. For Vande Bharat Mission, Air India has got the lion share of flights, with IndiGo being the only private airline to join the exercise.
Contending the charge, Jitendra Bhargava, a former executive director at Air India,  said that this was 'not a correct interpretation on fares. "Fares cannot be compared to usual fares, dictated by competition, when costs do not necessarily get covered. Fare being charged is much less than that charged by foreign carriers for operating similar repatriation flights," he said.
Earlier in the month, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had also taken to Twitter to comment on the issue:
But a senior executive from the industry disagrees. "The fare comparison by is highly misleading, as foreign charters are forced to fly their aircraft into India empty. Therefore their fares have to pay for both legs. Air India is charging full fare in both directions, flying full planes at full fare in both directions," he said.
07/06/20 Prince Mathews Thomas/
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