New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking at algorithms used by airlines to determine fares, as part of a detailed probe into alleged fixing of air ticket prices, according to its chief Sudhir Mital.
The fair trade regulator is investigating allegations of similar pricing as well as simultaneous increase in ticket prices by airlines. The cases pertain to steep fluctuations in airfares during the Jat agitation in Haryana and floods in Chennai, among other instances, in the last few years.
Mital said the CCI was currently looking into couple of cases of alleged price fixing by airlines.
“We are trying to work out the pricing pattern followed by airlines. Airlines have often stated that similarity in airfares and increase in prices are an outcome of demand-based dynamic pricing by softwares used by them. Unless and until the issue is examined and looked into in detail, we cannot say much at this stage."
The CCI chief said cases being looked at involved allegations of similar pricing by airlines during the Jat agitation and floods in Chennai. While the Jat agitation took place in early 2016, the floods occurred in 2015.
“Basically, one case being looked into is about similarity in prices of different airlines for the same route that customers often come across while booking tickets. The other is about surge pricing, for example, how is that during Jat agitation all airlines decided to increase prices on the same day," according to Mital.
The regulator is waiting for a report from the Director General (DG), which is its investigation arm. Generally, cases where the CCI finds prima-facie evidence of violations of competition norms are referred to the DG for a detailed probe.
“We have asked the DG to look into the algorithms used by airlines for determining fares to ascertain whether airlines coordinated to fix prices or the algorithms function on their own to determine prices," Mital said.
The CCI, which keeps a tab on unfair business practices across sectors, has powers to penalise entities for anti-competitive ways and direct them to cease and desist from indulging in such practices.
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