Centre rejects Kerala's charge airlines fleeced fliers during floods

Cochin airport
The Civil Aviation Ministry had instructed airlines to cap fares after noticing spiking of prices from Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode airports. File Photo

New Delhi: Dismissing Kerala's charge that airlines had jacked up the fares exorbitantly during the recent floods, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey on Tuesday said that 90 per cent of tickets on flights to and from the state were sold below Rs 10,000.

"Ninety per cent tickets sold at less than Rs 10,000 which was an informal ceiling set (by authorities) and airlines cooperated," he told reporters on the sidelines of the International Aviation Summit here.

He said the fares were in economy class and for direct flights to the state.

He also took on those who sought to mislead the general public by putting up screenshots which claimed the airfares had touched Rs 60,000 on social media.

These fares, he said, were not for direct flights to and from Kerala.

Kerala Chief Minister had complained that carriers are charging excess amount from Gulf-bound Kerala passengers during the floods. Following which, Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu took to social media to assure the Kerala CM that airlines were advised to ensure fares from Kerala and nearby airports to be kept at optimal levels.

The ministry on August 16 had asked airlines to cap the ticket fares after noticing spike in airfares operating to and out of Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode after Cochin International Airport was shut down due to incessant rain and flood.

Kerala witnessed its worst flood in a century last month, which claimed the lives of hundreds of people and rendered thousands homeless.

Meanwhile, participating at a plenary discussion at the event he made it clear that India was finding it "difficult" to commit to International Civil Aviation Organization's Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) requirements.

The scheme is aimed at curbing the aviation industry's carbon dioxide footprint worldwide and from January 1 next year, commercial operators must measure and report the fuel use and emissions of all international flights.

Voicing strong objection to framing regulations which differ from region to region, he said, "There cannot be patchwork solutions to environmental regulation."

Besides, he said India has not yet reached the level attained by mature aviation markets.

"Therefore, the main issue for negotiation is what should be the baseline and the reference to which we should regulate ourselves. We are having difficulty in accepting the benchmark level being sought to be imposed upon us," he said.

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