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Airfares soar to new highs in holiday season

Leading private airline Jet Airways, for instance, is charging a whopping Rs 18,184-Rs 28,118 for a Delhi-Mumbai one-way ticket on Monday and Tuesday. Last-minute one-way fares to cities like Jaipur, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram have gone up to between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000.

Sanjay Singh | November 7, 2011 | Updated 17:43 IST

Despite tall claims by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) about keeping a check on airfares, Indian carriers are charging exorbitant fares during this festive season.

Leading private airline Jet Airways, for instance, is charging a whopping Rs 18,184-Rs 28,118 for a Delhi-Mumbai one-way ticket for Sunday (November 6) and the following Monday and Tuesday.

The steep airfares can become a spoilsport for many who are planning a vacation during Christmas and New Year this year.

According to Jet Airways' Website, the economy fare for a one-way Delhi-Mumbai ticket on December 29 is Rs 30,198. Similarly, its Mumbai-Goa economy fare for December 29 is Rs 26,518, Bangalore-Goa Rs 25,170 and Mumbai-Goa fare Rs 30,918.

Other carriers like Kingfisher Airlines and Air India (AI) are also charging high fares for the same period though these are lower those of Jet Airways.

Airlines had jacked up fares on some metro sectors during Diwali this year. As a practice, Indian commercial airlines that largely report losses during the July-September monsoon season, hike fares during the festive season starting September-end as demand for air travel picks up.

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The fares are generally much higher as the weekend approaches.

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Last-minute one-way fares to cities like Jaipur, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram have gone up to between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000.

While the busiest Mumbai-Delhi sector fares are ruling at Rs 13,000-Rs 19,000, fares on the Kolkata-Mumbai sector have crossed the Rs 25,000-level and Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram last minute fares are Rs 28,000 and above.

This has raised fears that airlines may hike fares to exorbi-tant levels like they did last year at this time.

DGCA's director general E.K. Bharat Bhushan had on October 31 said that the regulator had begun monitoring air fares on an hourly basis and has found no discrepancies since the beginning of the current festive season in late September this year.

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The government does not directly regulate airfares but leaves these to market forces.

Last year a similar crisis had built up where airlines had hiked fares exorbitantly. The government during December 2010 had rejected a proposal by domestic airlines for a massive fare hike and warned them of penalty and other action if last-minute ticket prices were hiked arbitrarily.

Many airlines had jacked up fares between October and December by over two to three times on metro routes. Private airlines had then suddenly started talking of market forces and liberalisation after the government rapped them on the knuckles for hiking fares to exorbitant levels.

Airlines argue that fares are decided on availability and demand. If the load increases, the fares including last minute fares are pushed upwards, they say.

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Samyukta Sridharan, chief commercial officer of leading low-cost carrier SpiceJet said that airlines do not hike fares.

"Fares are decided on availability and demand. If the load increases the fares including last minute fares are pushed upwards," he pointed out.

"There is no control order from government on regulating airfares. There can be a chance where we have a similar airfare hike as we had last year," said Amber Dubey, director (aviation), with global consultancy, KPMG.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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