Significant rise in domestic air fare between April, May

NEW DELHI, June 9: Domestic air fares have risen “significantly” between April and May this year as compared to the same period last year, mostly due to reduction in capacity by Kingfisher Airlines and the peak holiday season.
With the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) analysing air fare data of all airlines during this period, there appeared to be a “significant rise” in fares over the same period last year, official sources said today.
The DGCA, which has been monitoring air fares over specific days during these months, would now broad-base its analysis for a larger time-period to establish a trend and find out whether the airlines were over-charging the passengers, they said.
However, no airline was charging beyond the fare band, though there was an upward swing in the air fares, the sources said. The fare bands are submitted by the air carriers themselves and displayed on their websites.
While the peak summer rush normally leads to an increase in demand for air travel and consequently higher fares, the sources said it was also being analysed whether the average operating costs have also gone up during the period.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had recently asked the aviation regulator to analyse the current fares and see if airlines are over charging. The DGCA has a Tariff Analysis Unit to monitor air fares on a regular basis.
The instructions came as the prevailing domestic airfares showed about 20-30 per cent hike due to the demand supply mismatch caused by reduction of capacity by Kingfisher and uncertainty surrounding Air India.
Kingfisher, which used to have 64 aircraft, now has only 16 in its fleet, with which it is operating between 90 and 100 flights every day.
The ongoing pilots’ strike in Air India, which entered the 33rd day, had earlier had an impact on its domestic operations in terms of demand with passengers shifting to other airlines fearing uncertainty.
However, this situation was soon overcome as the national carrier continued domestic operations in full swing without any disruption and is now recording its normal daily passenger traffic.
Last month, the DGCA had warned airlines against airfare hike, saying the cost of operation of scheduled airlines have not undergone any major changes since March that would justify the increase.
Directing scheduled domestic airlines to ensure that fares offered were within the fare band uploaded on the websites of respective airlines, the DGCA directed scheduled carriers to ensure that “no upward revision in tariff is effected due to industrial unrest in Air India” and also surge in demand during this period.
The DGCA had earlier said violation would be dealt with under Rule 135 of Aircraft Rules 1937, which directs airlines to determine tariff while maintaining transparency and keeping the passengers informed.
The aviation regulator had then directed the carriers to ensure transparency in ticket-pricing by providing route and date-wise fare details. (PTI)