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Domestic airlines hike fares by over 100%

Last updated on: March 21, 2011 09:34 IST

Domestic airlines hike fares by over 100%

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Mihir Mishra in New Delhi

Domestic carriers have raised air fares by over 100 per cent in key sectors from Friday evening.

This comes after a 200-300 per cent price-rise for the Diwali rush just four months back, following which the government had to intervene to cool down fares.

The Delhi-Mumbai economy class fares for a Friday evening flight were at Rs 14,800 for Kingfisher Airlines and Rs 16,400 for Jet Airways. In normal weekends the fares are Rs 5,500-6,000.

GoAir, a low-cost carrier (LCC), was charging Rs 9,706 for a ticket to Mumbai compared to a normal weekend fare of Rs 5,000.

Airlines are also said to be cashing in on the Jat agitation which has virtually disconnected Delhi-Lucknow with many trains being cancelled.

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LCCs are charging Rs 9,000 for a one-way ticket compared to Rs 3,000 on normal days. GoAir is charging Rs 14,306, four times the normal weekend fare for a flight to Lucknow from Delhi.

This fare increase, airlines are saying, is within the various minimum and maximum rate slabs they have submitted to the government.

But travel agents and consumers are crying hoarse. "The government seriously needs to do something about it, as the airlines are fleecing fliers. There cannot be any logic to charging so much because the demand is high," said Travel Agents Federation of India President Ajay Prakash, who returned to Mumbai from Delhi on Friday evening.

Prakash said a friend had to pay Rs 19,000 for an economy class return ticket to Delhi from Bangalore on a Kingfisher flight. "One can get a return ticket from Delhi to Dubai at the same price," he added.

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In mid-November, the Delhi-Mumbai sector had seen around 300 per cent jump in fares, attributed to a number of factors.

In the same period, airfares across the domestic network were 15-25 per cent higher in the peak travel season.

This had prompted the government to ask all airlines to announce a monthly slab of fares on their website.

The slab contains the minimum and maximum thresholds, which the respective airline will charge during that month. The fares the airlines were charging from Friday were within the range declared by the airlines.

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Fares in non-key sectors have gone up by around 30 per cent because of Holi being celebrated on Sunday.

"The demand has increased because of Holi and the fares are looking up 30 per cent across all sectors," said Subash Goyal, chairman, STIC Group.

The travel portals are also seeing demand rise for short-haul travel packages.

"People are extending their weekend by a day or two and going on tours to short-haul tourism destinations. Metro to metro sectors are seeing increase in fares because of the increase in demand and fares to holiday destinations are also seeing an increase," said Himanshu Singh, managing director of Travelocity, an online travel portal.



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