35,000…. 20,000…. 15,000…. 12,000!
Wondering why am I giving out random numbers here? These numbers could be the size of my bank balance, my spending amount for a few months or also my earnings. But interestingly it’s none of those. So what is it? This is the cost of travel nowadays from Mumbai to Delhi (1122 km) on flights ranging from Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher to LCCs like Spice Jet, Indigo, Go Air etc. I am sure you have heard a lot of hullaballoo over it already!
Why the sudden increase?
From the festive season (Diwali, Eid etc.) to the higher user development fee charged by the new airports at Mumbai, Delhi, airline companies don’t have a shortage of reasons to give for jacking up their prices.
Some of them also attribute the increasing load factor in this particular sector to the massive increase in prices.
Even though the privatisation of airports has helped customers in one way, it’s hurting them in a much bigger manner. The distance between Lucknow and Hyderabad is 1366 km but the cost of an Indigo flight between the two cities is approximately Rs 3,500. This is in sharp contrast to the Mumbai – Delhi fare. So is it that the UDF and other taxes charged at Mumbai and Delhi are so high for airlines to exorbitantly increase their fares? If so, then something needs to be urgently done to check this unethical practice.
What next? Is there anyone to save the customers from the wrath of the airlines?
The airlines have increased prices as much as they wanted. And customers are left with nothing but to just depend on them for taking them from point A to point B. And if all are players of the same game, he has no option of taking whatever fare is given.
I am sure all of you must be wondering how can I forget the DGCA. Oh yeah, DGCA exists to regulate the airline sector. But as is the case with such bodies, it’s always in deep slumber, only to wake up suddenly give some directions to airlines and go off to sleep again.
Like recently it has given the airlines certain guidelines to be followed: –
- Declaring their fares publically on websites and newspapers
- Informing of any change in the prices within 24 hours of changing them
- Furnish a copy of the route wise tariff to the DGCA on the 1st of every month
Oh how simple and easy right? Airlines could fight over the fact that their prices change like stock markets every few minutes and therefore it would be difficult to declare on 1st of every month. This makes one wonder whether rules at DGCA are really made in slumber?
And interestingly there is one more side to the coin. If the airlines agree to display all fares publically, they would display the basic fare which is probably 1/4th or 1/5th of the tax at the top while displaying the taxes in the smallest possible font. And they could surely argue that they are following the guidelines however unethical it may be.
In the end this isn’t the first time DGCA has woken up with some regulations without taking the airlines into consideration and wouldn’t be the last either. They had tried similar tactics to avoid cartelisation last year. And what happened? NOTHING!
A case of good rules but no implementation and therefore suffering passengers.
What do you think DGCA should do to prevent airlines jacking up their prices like this?