Can’t allow high air fares in the name of deregulation: Panel

New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has recommended to the government not to allow airlines to charge high fares during the festive and holiday seasons in the name of deregulation.

“… The committee has taken a very strong view and the committee notes specially that during vacations and festivals, some airlines are charging 8-10 times more,” All India Trinamool Congress MP and Head of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture Derek O’Brien told reporters here.

“So our strong message to the airlines, through the ministry (Ministry of Civil Aviation) is that we cannot allow this to happen in the name of deregulation.”

According to the Parliamentary panel’s other recommendations, airline’s cancellation charges should not be allowed to exceed 50 per cent of the basic fare.

“The committee has recommended that an airline cannot charge more than 50 per cent of basic fare as cancellation charges,” O’Brien said.

“The tax and the fuel surcharge should be refunded to the passengers… Because airlines are charging too much, especially some private airlines.”

The panel in its report on “Issues related to improving consumers’ satisfaction of airlines” which was presented to the Parliament on December 21 pointed out inadequate check-in facilities by low cost carriers.

“The Committee specifically pointed out malpractices adopted by low cost airlines like IndiGo. The Ministry, it seems, is following a hands-off approach so far as check-in process and check-in counters are concerned,” the report said.

“The Committee recommends that the number of check-in counters and personnel deployed at the counters should be directly proportional to the number of flights being operated by the airlines from a particular airport.”

Besides, the panel said that maximum limit prescribed by airlines, except Air India, for charging excess baggage charges should be enhanced.

“… The excess baggage charges, charged by the airlines, are on the higher side. The Committee feels that the airlines should not consider excess baggage charges as an opportunity to increase their revenue apart from their ticket sales,” the panel said in the report.

Further, the panel observed that “despite the mitigations and mechanism put in place, the Ministry’s role in containing the discourteous, rude, arrogant and aggressive behaviour of airlines staff with customers or passengers is far from satisfactory”.

“Almost all airlines have introduced a ‘No-Fly’ list for the unruly passengers, but when it comes to the turn of airlines to contain their unruly staff, they escape from their responsibility by saying that necessary training is being imparted upon. It is very essential that the airlines have to adopt consumer friendly approach,” the report said.

“The Committee desires that the Ministry shall ensure that strictest possible action is taken against unruly staff and heavy penalties imposed on them.”

In addition, the panel recommended instituting a “proper monitoring system” to check the behaviour of airlines’ staff.

“The Committee is of the view that the training given to airlines staff should be more effective, intense and thorough. The Committee, therefore, desires that the Ministry shall ensure to provide through training to all categories of airlines staff…,” the report said.