Rising airfares: Cong says PM's words that those with 'hawai chappals' can travel by air sound like 'cruel joke'

06:34 PM Jun 10, 2023 | PTI |

The Congress on Saturday expressed concern over the rising airfares and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s words that those wearing ‘hawai chappals’ can now travel in airplanes sound like a ”cruel joke”.


The government had on Monday asked airlines to devise a mechanism to ensure reasonable airfares amid a surge in air ticket prices, particularly on certain routes that were earlier served by Go First.

Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal said it was criminal to lift caps on airfares in August 2022 when the economy was in the ”doldrums” and asked if the government has planned any ”intervention” to ensure that consumers do not suffer.

”PM Modi famously said that those wearing ‘Hawai chappals’ can travel on a ‘Hawai Jahaaz.’ With Delhi-Mumbai flights crossing Rs. 15000 plus every day, his words sound like a cruel joke.

”These skyrocketing airfares are creating havoc among the middle class. The government’s complete free pass to the airlines, coupled with their rampant privatisation spree, is responsible for the dire situation today,” he alleged on Twitter.


He said the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the Government of India must confront some ”hard facts”: ”When the economy is in doldrums, it is criminal to lift the caps placed on airfare, like the government did in August ’22. With Go First collapsing, and with SpiceJet barely flying any routes, why did the government have no strategy to correct this massive dip in the number of flights being flown?” The Congress leader noted that the pricing algorithm will keep pushing the fares up in cases of demand-supply mismatch and asked, ”Does the government have any concrete intervention planned to check these airfares?”.

He asked whether ”the profits earned by private airport operators, especially Adani with its mega investment in airports, come out of the pockets of the common man”.

Venugopal said, ”Why was the Ministry so apathetic to the people’s suffering, that it allowed the flight prices from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata to go out of control when the Balasore train tragedy took place?”.

Noting that the taxes on ATF fuel are a noose around the neck of airlines, he said, ”The government should ensure the high cost is not passed on to the consumers.” During an hour-long meeting of the airlines advisory group on Monday, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia shared his concerns about the steep rise in airfares on certain routes.

Airlines have been asked to self-monitor airfares on routes that have seen a considerable rise in ticket prices, particularly those that were served by Go First earlier, the civil aviation ministry said.

In the case of the unfortunate Odisha tragedy, airlines have been advised to provide free carriage (cargo) services to the families of the deceased, it said.

”A mechanism should be devised by airlines to ensure reasonable pricing within the high RBDs (Reservation Booking Designator) and the same would be monitored by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” the ministry said in a statement.

Besides, the ministry has said that during any calamity, airlines need to keep a tight check on the pricing of air tickets ”in view of the humanitarian situation and monitor and control any surge in ticket prices to/ from that region”.

After the deregulation of airfares, they are market-driven and are neither established nor regulated by the government. Airline pricing runs in multiple levels (buckets or Reservation Booking Designators).


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