The Kerala government today asked the Centre to put a cap to airfares to the Gulf sector to prevent the ‘unjustified’ hike of fares by airlines during the festival and summer vacation seasons. The state also wanted the Centre to introduce more Air India Express flights and persuade private airlines to operate additional flights to the Gulf region under the open sky policy. In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, Chief Minister Pinarayi sought the Centre’s intervention to control airfares. The Chief Minister pointed out that airlines had hiked the fares five to six times for destinations in West Asia to the state, causing hardship to ordinary workers who planned to visit home town during the Ramzan festival.
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It seems that airlines were cashing in on the demand during the festival season and closure of educational institutions for the summer vacation in the Gulf,Vijayan said. “This kind of hike in airfares had never occurred in the past”, the Chief Minister added. In view of this,the Centre should put a cap to airfares and also introduce more Air India Express flights to the Gulf region under the open sky policy, he said. Vijayan also referred to the meeting of airlines CEO’s here on May 15 and the Civil Aviation Secretary’s suggestion that the Centre would consider providing more seats for a shorter 15 day period in festival seasons to control fares. However, instead of lowering airfares, airlines have hiked fares, Vijayan said.