Tuesday, August 22, 2023

House panel asks Aviation ministry to monitor fares but finding ideal fares remains a challenge

The Department-related Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture has given a recommendation to put a mechanism in place by the Minister of Civil Aviation to be coordinated with the Ministry of Tourism and airline companies. The mechanism is aimed to regulate and monitor the flight booking portals to not indulge in unscrupulous practices for unethical profits, especially by publishing incorrect information under the guise of selling “last seats”.

A committee to deal with such air fare grievance redressal complaints was constituted on September 13, 2022, and has been headed by V Vijayasai Reddy.

“Presently, ticket pricing is based on airline experience and set parameters, and airlines legitimately seek to maximise profits made through ticket sales. Airline price algorithms are not made public and are a closely guarded secret”, the committee report added.

The committee also observed that there is a lot of variation in User Development Fees, especially for domestic travellers. It ranges from nil to ₹ 480 and for international passengers, from ₹ 52.56 to ₹ 120.

“The Committee desires to know the reasons for the wide variation in UDF rates both for domestic and international passengers which is one of the components of airfares, leading to rise in airfares,” the report said.

The committee also added that when it comes to charges levied by airport operators undertaken on the authority of Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), whenever possible, there should be a broader uniformity in terms of various fees being charged across all airports in the country. 

The committee thus keeping all these points in mind issued subsequent necessary guidelines to all airport operators to rationalise the charges at different airports.

While the proposed guidelines suggested by the house committee seem laudable and optimistic another side of the conservation is also present.

It is without doubt that air prices in India are often too high when compared distance-wise to other airlines worldwide, while a spate of different factors are responsible for this discrepancy, some changes in airline pricing for India seem to have been coming in for some time now.

22/08/2023  Akshit Joshi/News Nine

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