New Delhi: Charging most Indian carriers with "unreasonably" hiking airfares, a Parliamentary panel has sought a probe against them and recommended that any increase in ticket prices should be approved by aviation regulator DGCA in the future. Noting that "most of the airlines operating in the country had been overcharging the passengers by increasing the airfares unreasonably", the panel sought an investigation into the fare hikes by all airlines and said those found guilty may be penalised.
It also said the excess amount the airlines have collected "by way of exorbitant passenger fares may be identified". In its report tabled in Parliament last week, the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture recommended that "in future all the airlines may be asked to increase their fares only with the approval of DGCA."
It said a "transparent formula" for pricing of air tickets should be evolved and "implemented within three months." In response to Civil Aviation Ministry's comments that the DGCA plays a monitoring role and ensures that airlines display the fares of various categories, the Committee, headed by senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, said the recent initiatives by DGCA in this regard "has not received much response from the travelling public".
It also asked DGCA to ensure that airline operators "do not indulge in unfair trade practices in fixing airfares during festival and other peak seasons much to the discomfort of the travelling public". This winter peak season, airfares have risen by almost 25-30 per cent, primarily to due to high jet fuel prices, with the Ministry asking airlines to make public the pricing system of various fare slabs under which airlines bunch tickets for sale.
The aviation regulator has a cell which regularly monitors the airfare rates of all airlines on the basis of the lowest and highest fare brackets submitted by the carriers themselves.