DGCA asks airlines to bring down fares following 'Jet' lag


New Delhi: The grounding of several planes by Jet Airways following its financial crisis and the consequent spike in air fares have forced the aviation watchdog, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to look into the matter.

On Tuesday, the DGCA asked airlines to reduce fares on ten domestic routes to "reasonable levels" as ticket prices on these high density routes have risen up to 30 per cent in last one month, according to a senior official.

Jet, which has around $1.2 billion in bank debt, has been teetering for weeks after failing to receive a stop-gap loan of about $217 million as part of a rescue deal in late March. A failure to raise enough funds will result in the shut down of the airlines, and eventually lead to a severe demand-supply gap and inflated prices in the airline industry.

Speaking about various steps being taken to address capacity and other issues, Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said the DGCA reviewed airfare movement in 40 high density sectors.

A comparison between current ticket prices and those during March 7-14 period, when it was normal season, was done by the watchdog.

It was found that airfares rose 10-30 per cent on 10 routes and on those routes, airlines have been asked to reduce the ticket prices to "reasonable levels", Kharola told reporters here.

A senior DGCA official said the regulator would continue to monitor airfare movements on a daily basis and also engage with airline for appropriate action.

Airlines were advised to continue to monitor at their level and provide information to the DGCA to keep fares low as far as possible, he noted.

"Airlines representative also intimated DGCA that they have removed the few higher buckets from sale and offering tickets to passengers in lower fare buckets.

"DGCA will continue to monitor fare movement on daily basis and engage with airline for appropriate action," the official added.

According to him, the regulator monitors domestic airfares on a daily basis, particularly on high density routes and routes where alternate mode of transport is not available or is difficult.

Based on the monitoring process, the DGCA engages with airlines when the spurt in airfares is observed in any sector for appropriate action, he added.

Kharola said that around 21 planes are expected to be added to the fleet of domestic carriers by the end of May. Out of them, eight have been brought in since the beginning of March and another three are expected to the inducted in the coming weeks.

Without naming any airline, he said that some of them are in discussions with lessors to take deregistered aircraft of Jet Airways.

Together, there would be a "good number" of additional planes to meet the peak season demand, he added.

Earlier in the day, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had called for a review of issues related to struggling Jet Airways, including rising fares and flight cancellations.

"Directed Secretary @MoCA_GoI to review issues related to Jet Airways, especially increasing fares, flight cancellations etc," Prabhu said in a tweet.

Besides asking Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to take necessary steps to protect passenger rights and safety, Prabhu also called for working with all stakeholders for their well being.

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