The Congress party expressed deep concern regarding the escalating airfares and criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement that flying in airplanes is now accessible to those wearing 'hawai chappals' (slippers) as a "cruel joke." The government's recent call for airlines to establish a mechanism for reasonable airfares in the face of skyrocketing ticket prices, especially on routes formerly served by Go First, has prompted Congress to question if any interventions are planned to alleviate the burden on consumers.
Congress General Secretary K C Venugopal deemed the removal of airfare caps in August 2022, when the economy was struggling, as a criminal act and accused the government of neglecting the middle class. He expressed his dissatisfaction on Twitter, stating, "PM Modi famously said that those wearing ‘Hawai Chappals’ can travel on a ‘Hawai Jahaaz.’ With Delhi-Mumbai flights crossing Rs. 15k+ everyday, his words sound like a cruel joke. These skyrocketing airfares are creating havoc among the middle class."
PM Modi famously said that those wearing ‘Hawai Chappals’ can travel on a ‘Hawai Jahaaz.’ With Delhi-Mumbai flights crossing Rs. 15k+ everyday, his words sound like a cruel joke.— K C Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) June 10, 2023
These skyrocketing airfares are creating havoc among the middle class. The government’s complete…
Venugopal blamed the government's leniency towards airlines, coupled with their aggressive privatization efforts, for the current dire situation. He questioned the Ministry of Civil Aviation on their strategy to address the significant decline in the number of flights operated after the collapse of Go First and the limited routes flown by SpiceJet. Venugopal also raised concerns about the profits earned by private airport operators, specifically mentioning Adani Group's investments, and whether they come at the expense of the common man.
Highlighting the government's apathy towards the public's suffering, Venugopal questioned why flight prices from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata spiraled out of control during the Balasore train tragedy. He further emphasized the need for the government to ensure that the high cost of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) does not burden consumers.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia expressed his concerns about the substantial surge in airfares on specific routes during a meeting with the airlines advisory group. The civil aviation ministry advised airlines to self-monitor airfares on routes previously served by Go First and provide free carriage services to the families affected by the Odisha tragedy.
The ministry called for airlines to establish a mechanism for reasonable pricing within the high Reservation Booking Designators (RBDs) and assured monitoring by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). In situations of calamities, airlines were urged to exercise strict control over ticket pricing, considering the humanitarian aspect and any surge in prices to and from the affected regions.
Since the deregulation of airfares, pricing is market-driven and not regulated by the government, operating through various levels or buckets known as Reservation Booking Designators (RBDs).
(With PTI Inputs)