The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked airlines not to charge exorbitant fares for flights to Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast states and Port Blair. This comes in the wake of Jet Airways grounding over half of its fleet leading to massive cancellations and a surge in airfares.
The civil aviation regulator is also expected to take a call next week on the release of slots that are lying unused due to the grounding of Jet’s fleet.
Rival airlines have sought airport slots lying vacant and the DGCA would take a decision on giving them on a temporary basis after Jet submits its operational plan, it is learnt.
Last week, civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu had asked department secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola to review the impact of Jet’s grounding on cancellations, refunds and safety. The DGCA was also instructed to monitor airfares. The regulator held one meeting with airlines last week and again on Thursday.
The regulator has advised airlines not to charge high fares on routes like Srinagar, Port Blair or in Northeast regions. Jet has pulled out flights from Northeast states and also cancelled its Srinagar flight, leading to reduction in capacity.
The grounding of SpiceJet’s Max planes has also lowered the overall capacity.
The airlines, however, said the demand was high due to Holi and subsequent long weekend and not due to grounding of planes. “The airlines have been losing money and no relief has come on issues like inclusion of jet fuel under goods and services tax. We have also pointed out that the fare movement is dynamic, as it is linked to demand-supply and slot constraints at airports is leading to shortage on supply side,” an executive of a private airline said.
Jet is currently operating only 30-35 planes and has informed the government it would add another 40 by April end.
Other airlines are pressing for release of slots, which are not being utilised by Jet. Lenders want the government not to release the slots as it would impair the value of Jet during its process next month. The grounding is impacting airports, too, as it means lower revenue by way of landing fees and less passenger footfalls.
Executives of rival airlines also pointed out the civil aviation ministry’s slot allocation guidelines allow the government to cancel an allocated slot in case the airline does not utilise it for a month. A government source said a call would be taken after Jet submits its operational plan on Monday or Tuesday.
“Discussions are on with airlines,” an official said, adding that the government may release unused slots temporarily for one or two months.
- Grounding of Jet planes has led to massive cancellations and increase in fares
- Civil aviation ministry has asked the DGCA to monitor airfares
- Jet plans to operate 75 planes by April end
- DGCA is expected to take a call on release of unused slots by next week