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Airlines lower overall fares

Airlines lower overall fares

New Delhi: With pressure mounting on them, domestic airlines have lowered the overall fares on several sectors though they are yet to return to the average levels during the same period last year.

The overall airfares have come down by about 20-25% in the past week, official sources said, adding that the “pressure" mounted by the civil aviation ministry and the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) against exorbitant airfares had been a success, officials told PTI.

The fare range on Delhi-Mumbai sector was 5,000 to 20,000 on economy class ticket, while that on Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata stood between 5,000 and 15,000, the officials said.

Two weeks ago, the lowest last-minute Delhi-Mumbai fare was about 17,000, even though holiday travel season had not begun.

The lowest available fares at the same time last year was about 3,000 for Delhi-Mumbai and 4,000 for the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata sectors, they said.

The DGCA, headed by the newly appointed E K Bharat Bhushan, and his predecessor SNA Zaidi, now the civil aviation secretary, have held deliberations with airline representatives over the last two weeks.

DGCA had a formal meeting with officials of the no-frill carriers, IndiGo, Spicejet and GoAir, Saturday following a directive asking all carriers to explain the high fares they were charging.

On Monday, the DGCA would meet representatives of full-service carriers, Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher.

The officials, requesting anonymity, said the last minute fares between Delhi and Cochin ranged between 8,000 and 12,000, while that between Delhi and Coimbatore stood at an average of 7,000.

Airfare on the high-demand sector like Delhi-Leh stood at less than 4,500 while those from the national capital to Kullu, Shimla and Dehradun ranged between 6,000 and 9,000.

Asked whether these fares were at the same level as last year, they said these were at least 20% higher than the same period in 2009, of not more.

Rebutting Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya’s statement that government should not regulate airfares, they said the basic intention of the government was to bring in more transparency in the fixing of fares by airlines.

“The passenger should know what they are paying," they said.

Mallya had Saturday said that an airline seat was a “perishable commodity" whose price was dynamic as it was determined by demand and supply.

A senior Jet official also agreed with Mallya and said the low fare buckets or a few number of seats available at the lowest prices got filled up much in advance.

“If you want to travel last minute, you have to pay higher fare. This is the practice worldwide."

Civil aviation minister Praful Patel said earlier that either exorbitant fares or “predatory fares" (lowering of ticket prices even below cost to under-cut competing airlines) would not be allowed.

DGCA had last week asked airlines to submit the planned price bands on various sectors after some of them resorted to steep hike in airfares even during the non-peak season.

The carriers then proposed a price band which too was rejected by DGCA as arbitrary

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