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Airlines slash ticket prices after government intervenes

Sunday December 05, 2010 05:34:58 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Flight tickets on most routes are expected to come down by 20-25 percent after the government and the aviation watchdog asked all airlines to bring down prices of last minute bookings to reasonable levels.

The move comes after officials of the civil aviation ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) met with executives from Spice Jet which represented private airlines and asked them to bring down spot fares.

The private carriers decision to lower tariffs will come as a relief to many passengers who had to pay up to 200 percent of the normal fares on spot or last-minute bookings.

According to travel agents and websites of airlines, a Delhi-Mumbai ticket is now available for between Rs.5,000-Rs.14,000, while the Delhi-Chennai fare is down to Rs. 6,000-Rs 15,000.

In comparison, earlier fares for tickets booked about 24 hours in advance could be over Rs.20,000 on some of these routes.

"We have asked the airlines to be reasonable about their demands and to be transparent about their bucket seats," said newly-appointed DGCA director E.K. Bharat Bhushan after the meeting with leading low cost carriers (LCCs) in Delhi.

However, Kingfisher Airline's chairman Vijay Mallya said the issues was being hyped by the media and that in reality passengers pay far lesser than what is being portrayed.

"Media has created a controversy. You have taken the highest band that exists now, comparing it with the lowest band several months back. People pay much lesser than these prices even during peak season," said Mallya in Bangalore.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Friday had rejected a proposal by domestic airlines for a massive hike in air fares and said an economic advisory council would be formed to look into tariff-related issues.

Patel said the industry should justify the exorbitant increase in prices and that the passenger should come to know the prices on a day to day basis.

"If the fare is Rs.10,000 today and it becomes Rs.20,000 tomorrow, what is the earth shattering reason behind it. There has to be some justification from the airlines," the minister said.





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