Thursday, November 11, 2021

Won't have airlines in India to board if fare limits not increased: Aviation Minister

There won't be any airline in India to board if limits on domestic airfares are not increased as oil prices have jumped from $22 each barrel to $85 in the last eight months, Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Thursday.

At the 'Times Now Summit 2021', he said aviation turbine fuel (ATF) is about 40% of an airline's cost structure in the country.

Domestic air travel became costlier on August 12 this year when the Aviation Ministry raised the lower and upper caps on domestic fares by 9.83 to 12.82%.

The Ministry had increased the lower limit for flights under 40-minute duration from ₹2,600 to ₹2,900 -- an increase of 11.53%. The upper cap for flights under 40-minute duration was increased by 12.82% to Rs 8,800.

On Thursday, Mr. Scindia said, "Look at what has happened to ATF prices. Oil prices over the last eight months increased from $22 per barrel to $84. So, the airline's cost structure has gone up by four times." "Add to that the excise duty of 11% and VAT charged by the State governments in the range of 1% to 30%. How is an airline going to survive unless it (ATF) becomes economical?" he posed.

The reason for the Aviation Ministry raising the fare bands is that airlines must be given some cushion when there is a 400% jump in the prices of raw materials. "If you are not able to give a 12.5% hike on the revenue side then you and I won't have an airline to board," he added.

India had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services resumed on May 25, 2020, after a two-month Covid lockdown.

The lower caps were imposed to help the airlines that have been struggling financially due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The upper caps were imposed so that passengers are not charged huge amounts when the demand for seats is high.

The caps mentioned by the government in its order does not include the passenger security fee, user development fee for the airports and the GST. These charges are added on top when a ticket is booked.

11/11/21 PTI/The Hindu

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