New Delhi: India’s two largest airlines that between them cater to more than half of the domestic market will now let each passenger carry just 15kg of check-in baggage from this month instead of 20kg.
IndiGo said it is reducing free baggage allowed on domestic flights from 1 June to 15kg per passenger. Excess baggage at check-in counters will be charged at Rs.250 per kg, the airline said.
Jet Airways (India) Ltd, which had announced a similar cut in early May and then rolled it back later in the month without giving any reason, said it, too, was bringing back the baggage allowance cuts. From 5 June, all Jet Airways and Jet Konnect flights will allow only 15kg free baggage for each passenger. It will charge Rs.250 per kg of excess baggage as well, the airline wrote to travel agents on Monday.
National carrier Air India had lowered free baggage allowance to 15kg on all its domestic flights from 13 May. That leaves SpiceJet Ltd and GoAir that still let each passenger check in luggage weighing 20kg.
Airlines started paring the free baggage allowed after the aviation ministry in April allowed them to sell several of their services such as preferred seats, baggage and lounges, separately.
“... So, the list is endless,” Sudheer Raghavan, Jet Airways’ chief commercial officer, said in an analyst call last week, referring to ancillary services. “In fact, I have seen more and more airlines getting very creative at building new sources of ancillary revenue.”
Jet and its subsidiary Konnect had lost Rs.780 crore in the fiscal year ended March.
Globally, Raghavan said, in 2010, total collection on ancillary revenue by airlines in the region was about $18 billion. By 2011, it grew to about $32.5 billion, he said.
“If you look at the average percentage of ancillary revenue earned by the carriers who are long in the curve, close to anywhere from 18% to 20% of their total revenue come from sale of ancillary services. The more modest carriers in the lower end are hovering at about 2% to 5%. I would say that ours is even lower than that,” he said.
A passenger association has condemned the government’s policy.
In a letter to aviation minister Ajit Singh on 17 May, Sudhakara Reddy, the Chennai-based head of consumer group Air Passengers Association of India, said while airlines in India have been allowed to charge for ancillary services following international practice, the lower fares available internationally to passengers are not available to Indian passengers yet.
“Your statement that unbundling of fares, services and facilities will result in reduction in air fares is an impossible thing in our country. Unbundling will result in unreasonable profits being made by airlines and we strongly protest the same,” Reddy said in the letter, reviewed by Mint. “It is extremely an unfair practice and we would like to have a response from you for the same. We are under tremendous pressure to move the courts about the same and we will not act till such time we receive a response from your office.”