Airline industry should do more to lower fares: Patel

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Old 14-Dec-2010
Airline industry should do more to lower fares: Patel

New Delhi December 14:

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel talked tough over the issue of spot fares and asked the airline industry to do more to bring in transparency in pricing structure to protect passenger interests.

"We feel much more needs to be done, we have advised and cautioned the airlines. They must do whatever is necessary in the larger passenger interest," Patel said here after a meeting of the newly formed civil aviation economic advisory council (CAEAC).

Patel said that the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) and his ministry were unhappy with the fares put online on the airlines websites as they were exorbitantly high. "The DGCA and ministry are not happy with fares on airline websites and feel they should bring more transparency on spot fares," he said.

The minister said CAEAC has decided to set up a small working group which would include representatives of the airline industry and passengers' associations to work out solutions on the issue. On Dec 3, Patel had rejected a proposal by domestic airlines for a massive hike in air fares and announced the formation of an economic advisory council to look into tariff related issues.

"The council will comprise representatives at very senior levels - CEOs (chief executives) of all scheduled airlines, CEOs of all airport operators, representatives of major industry associations like CII, Assocham and FICCI and representatives of IATA," he had said. Other representatives of organisations such as consumer forums dealing with passenger grievances and related activities and the regulator, the DGCA, will also join the council.

In the past few weeks, the regulator received complaints about airlines charging exorbitant rates for last-minute bookings, sometimes as high as 200 percent of the normal fares. Routes like the Delhi-Mumbai, which accounts for 70 percent of the total domestic air traffic, saw ticket prices shoot up significantly leading to an uproar from consumer forums and passengers.

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