The Delhi High Court has sought the government’s reply on a plea seeking capping of airfares across the country so that flyers are not fleeced by airlines. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra issued notice to the Civil Aviation Ministry and sought their response after it was informed that the government has failed to comply with its earlier direction asking them to decide the issue.
The court fixed the matter for further consideration on September 15. The counsel for the central government submitted before the court that airfares was beyond the control of the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The court had on July 20 last year disposed the plea with direction to the ministry to consider the issues raised before it and pass an appropriate order in accordance with law within eight weeks. The PIL filed through advocate Amit Sahni has urged the court to direct the authorities to frame “guidelines so as to put a cap on airfares and prevent the private airlines from charging arbitrarily, irrationally and exorbitantly for air flights.”
The advocate has stated that he had filed an RTI application seeking information regarding airfares and the ministry had replied that these were not controlled by the government. Citing the Jat agitation in Haryana last year, the plea has said if there would have been a cap, the airlines could not have charged huge amounts.
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“The private airlines companies have fleeced people even in emergent situations and the government has stood as a mute spectator,” the plea has said, adding there was an “urgent need to regulate the upper limit of airfares so that the private airlines cannot fleece their customers as per their own wish.” Capping of airfares in the backdrop of passengers’ complaints of arbitrary tariff hikes was recently ruled out by the government which had said competition among airlines would take care of the problem.
The ministry had said restricting the airfares will not make good business sense as it could also jeopardise the government’s regional connectivity plan, as such a move may discourage airlines from flying on non-profitable routes. In his plea, the counsel said “it is totally unfair on the part of respondents (Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Director General of Civil Aviation) to state that they cannot regulate the airfare, thereby leaving the entire decision upon private companies to decide airfare as per their on wish.”