Airlines told to self-regulate on airfares; Minister advises people to book tickets in advance for lower fares
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia addressed the Lok Sabha, assuring measures to sensitize airlines on pricing moderation and passenger-centric fare policies. He emphasized commitments from airlines to avoid surges, especially during crises
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has informed the Lok Sabha about measures taken to sensitize airlines on the need for price moderation and passenger-centric fare policies. Responding to concerns raised during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha about escalating airfares, Scindia assured that airlines have committed to avoiding surges, especially during events such as natural disasters and calamities.
To address the demand-supply gap in busy sectors, Scindia outlined the government's encouragement for airlines to acquire more aircraft, including widebody planes, and increase flight operations. He explained that this strategy aims to enhance supply and positively impact airfares as the aviation sector grows.
During consultations with airlines, Scindia emphasized the importance of self-regulation and urged carriers to consider passenger interests when setting airfares. The minister informed the House that the number of air passengers has risen from six crore in 2014 to 14.5 crore at present.
Scindia pointed out that current airfares are competitive with the AC First Class of Indian Railways and predicted a further increase in air travel. He estimated that by 2030, the sector would accommodate 42 crore air passengers, experiencing threefold growth.
Addressing concerns about fare hikes during peak holiday and festival seasons, as well as natural calamities, Scindia explained the seasonal nature of the civil aviation sector. He advised passengers to book in advance to avoid high fares, asserting that the sector's tariff monitoring unit randomly assesses 60 routes.
In response to an MP's inquiry about fare increases amid the COVID-19 pandemic and rising jet fuel costs, Scindia highlighted the resilience of airfares compared to the substantial losses incurred by airlines, ranging from Rs 55,000 crore to Rs 1,30,000 crore over the last three years. He attributed the financial challenges to the significant increase in air turbine fuel (ATF) prices, which account for nearly 40% of airlines' operating costs. Despite this, airfares have not escalated proportionally, according to the minister.