New Delhi: A day after Network 18 reported how major airlines had abolished cheap air fares, the Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel told CNN-IBN he would take strict action against the airlines if he found any cartelisation.
"I do not approve and I'm not happy with all the airlines increasing fares. As govt we will see and examine what exactly I can do but I certainly do not approve this move. If there is any cartelisation, then we will take very strict action," said Patel.
Following this, Jet Airways reacted almost immediately with a new lower fare pack. Jet has come out with 30 day apex fares on key domestic routes. This means that if you book your ticket on the airline 30 days in advance then you will have to pay a base fare of Rs 300. And if you book 30 days in advance on Jetlite then you will have to pay Re 1 as base fare for major domestic routes.
Other airlines could have to follow as well, as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has stepped in asking airlines to explain the recent hikes. The airline regulator plans to take strict action if the increase in flying charges are found to be unfair.
The airlines have hiked rates despite the price of Aviation turbine fuel crashing by close to 80 per cent. The government had also come to the aid of airlines with several Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
Despite that, airlines including public carrier Air India hiked fares, though it says its prices are still 10 per cent lower than Jet and Kingfisher.
When contacted the airline said, "The load factor has not increased with low January fares. We need to recover losses and cannot go on with low fares."
So as the battle for the skies heats up, it's the travellers who could be the end winner with cheaper fares.