Airlines might not be “angels, but definitely they are not demons”, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday said amid concerns over arbitrary hike in air fares.
Making it clear that there will not be a “simplistic solution” to deal with exorbitant rise in air fares; he reiterated that capping would not be the answer as that would also push up the floor prices.
Against the backdrop of persisting concerns that airlines have been charging higher fares, especially during emergencies, Raju asserted that airlines have been responsive during crises.
To buttress his point against capping, the minister cited an analysis done in 2015 which showed that only around 1.7 per cent of the tickets sold were in the higher fare bucket.
“Caps and floors are very interesting… but we should not land in a situation that pushes up the price of over 90 per cent of passengers to benefit around 1.7 per cent of the passengers,” Raju said in response to a query on whether the government would look at capping air fares.
Stressing that the overall objective is to ensure reasonable pricing of air tickets, the minister said airlines have been responsible in keeping fares reasonable during Chennai and Srinagar floods.
“They (airlines) might not be angels, but they definitely are not demons… We need to work with them and find a solution (for higher air fares). These are problems which do not lend itself to a simplistic solution,” Raju said.
Earlier in June, he had ruled out the possibility of capping air fares against the backdrop of passenger complaints of arbitrary tariff hikes, saying competition among the airlines will take care of the problem.
Concerns have been expressed in various quarters over steep fluctuation in air fares, especially during natural calamities and other emergencies. There have been instances of air ticket prices shooting up during the recent Jat agitation.
Besides, airlines had come in for criticism over steep hike in ticket cancellation charges and higher levy for various unbundled services.