Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has asked director general of civil aviation Prabhat Kumar to investigate whether airlines have been misleading flyers by offering discounted fares.
A top ministry official told MAIL TODAY that carriers would soon have to submit to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data on discounted tickets offered in the past one year.
Raju has taken note of a complaint by Chennai-based Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) to DGCA alleging that discounted fare schemes were a gimmick as tickets were not available at the mentioned price.
APAI had alleged that these offers were merely a marketing stunt by airlines aimed at free publicity. APAI founder and national president D. Sudhakara Reddy wrote to Kumar that many of the discounted tickets are either sold out when a flyer tries to book a seat or the special offers do not exist.
The association has urged DGCA to ban such schemes. Reddy told MAIL TODAY, "We had received lot of complaints by passengers saying that whenever they have tried to book seats, discounted tickets are either sold out or not available. To check and be doubly sure, we had deputed our staffers to try and book the tickets but they failed as well." Reddy added, "I recently logged on to the Spice-Jet website to book a seat on the Chennai-Kochi November 7 flight being offered at Rs 899. But the website showed that it had already been sold out; I ended up buying a ticket for Rs 3,000. Strangely, our website has been hacked now. You can very well understand that who must have done it."
Since the beginning of this year, carriers have been aggressively announcing discounted fares. SpiceJet has taken the lead forcing other carriers such as Indigo, Jet Airways and even Air India to make similar announcements.