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Corporate Sep 13, 2013

Airlines rule out lower fares but agree to more flights from smaller airports

By Sindhu Bhattacharya

New Delhi: Here's welcome news for flyers. Not only have airlines agreed to rationalise cancellation charges (which they had increased recently), they have also agreed to an aviation ombudsman who will initially function from Delhi and Mumbai airports and address minor service grievances like lost baggage, offloading from a flight etc.

New flights from smaller airports are also being mounted.

Aviation Secretary K N Shrivastava and other senior ministry officials met with airline CEOs today.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Air India, SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and Jet Airways.

But on any rollback in recent fare hike, no headway was made with airlines saying high ATF prices were driving them to raise fares.

Reuters

Reuters

Also, the second issue of some states seeking lower fares on flights to their airports in return for waiving sales tax on jet fuel has also been partially resolved.

Airlines will not offer lower fares but will mount more flights to these states to increase connectivity.

Lets begin with the aviation ombudsman - this office will be functional at the two airports in about a month. Shrivasta said grievances like lost baggage, offloading from a flight on which you have been booked etc can all be dealt with here.

He also said airlines have agreed to mount several new flights from airports of those states where ATF taxation has been slashed.

So evening flights out of Bagdogra to Kolkata will now be mounted by SpiceJet and IndiGo in the next two months; another evening flight from Agartala to Kolkata will be mounted by SpiceJet. IndiGo will start a Coimbatore-Mumbai morning and a Coimbatore-Delhi morning service.

The airlines have also been asked to offer special, lower fares to locals of three destinations -- Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Leh and Lakshadweep.

Shrivastava also said that an amendment is being made in the Aircraft Rules so that aircraft lessors are assured of getting their aircraft back. After the debacle of Kingfisher Airlines, lessors had faced immense trouble in taking back aircraft.

by Sindhu Bhattacharya

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