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Need to discuss capping of fares with airlines: DGCA

 “... if a capping (of airfares) is required, then we will have to have discussions with them (airlines),” DGCA Director General M Sathiyavathy said here. To a query on whether capping airfare is a practical option in the context of free market principles, she said, “Let’s see. We need to have discussions.” 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would start making public from this month the highest fare bucket (or class) rates levied by domestic airlines.

When asked if the regulator has noticed significant fluctuations in air ticket prices, she said, “It (the average rise) has been less than 1.5 per cent or a maximum of 2 per cent in high fare bucket for the month of April. We will be monitoring it every month.”  The DGCA is expected to release tomorrow the air traffic data for the month of April along with high fare bucket details.

Responding to concerns expressed by Parliamentarians over surge in airfares during the recent Jat agitation and natural calamities, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju earlier this month told the Lok Sabha that he would discuss the issue with stakeholders.

To a query on proposed discussions with airlines in this regard, the DGCA chief said the minister has to fix the date and that “the matter is being looked into”. According to Sathiyavathy, airlines have come forward and offered extra flights during crisis times such as at the time of Chennai floods. 

Whether it was floods at Chennai and Srinagar, Jat agitation or earthquake in Nepal, on all the four occasions the DGCA interacted with the airlines, she said. During those times, the airlines “readily came forward and offered extra flights, some of them free of cost and as far as Chennai floods were concerned, in flights from Chennai to Hyderabad and Bengaluru, they (airlines) pegged fares at Rs 2,500 (per ticket),” she noted. 

Sathiyavathy also said that if there is a need to have a restriction on the upper limit of airfares during crisis periods, “we need to examine that, which is what the Minister has said”. On the issue of airlines hiking ticket cancellation charges recently, she said the DGCA is looking into the matter. “We have been trying to compare with international trends and like that... It (analysis of cancellation charges) will take more time,” she said.
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