After the Parliamentary Standing Committee pulled up Airlines for exorbitant fares in its report and raised concerns over 'rude behaviour' by their staff, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha said that the airlines are running as per the 'global practices'.
"We have been looking into the matter. We are also investigating as to how the airline pricing taking place. And we have observed that the airlines are doing nothing new and are running as per the global practices. They are doing it according to the global standards. If anyone thinks that the price is being run high and on a predatory manner then he can lodge a complaints in DCG and it will be looked into," he said.
Sinha further said that the airline pricing in India is very low and nowhere in the world people get such cheap air tickets.
Speaking on the behaviors of the airline staff, Sinha added, "We are working on the behaviors of the staff members. All the matter has been taken seriously. As far as cancellation price is concerned we are very clear that it should not be more than the base fare and surcharge fare."
Echoing similar sentiments, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that the issue raised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee will be looked into.
"We will have a look at whatever is being said in the report. Dynamic pricing is there all over the world. So, the prices keep varying from time to time. Now, we will not go into the old regime that we were following. Different strategies are required," he added.
However, Aviation expert Harshvardhan said the panel's observation to some extent is 'valid' and added that airlines do behave in a cartelised manner during peak season.
Speaking to ANI, Harshvardhan said, "I think the main focus has been on two areas. One is the pricing mechanism particularly during the peak time and secondly the behavior of airlines staff with the passengers. To some extent their observation is very valid. Airlines do behave in a cartelised manner during peak season particularly during festivals."
He said that during the time of natural calamity when the airline start charging exorbitant charge, during that time the government should intervene and can bring certain revolution.
"Rising price beyond expectation is something that needs to be checked. You have to create certain batch. Festivals period I am not concerned because festival times people book in advance but if there is a natural calamity and the airline they start charging exorbitant charge I think that is the time when the government has to intervene. I think for such issue the government can bring certain revolution and take care of people's need," he added.
He further said that airlines need to focus on training of their staff and make it a policy towards their staff that they will not tolerate any misbehavior against passengers.
The committee on Thursday presented its report in Parliament and expressed resentment over the arbitrage of airline companies regarding the price of tickets in its report.
According to the committee, due to the festive season or the booking of tickets near the date of travel, airline companies often charge ten times more freight than normal fares, which are arbitrary and unacceptable. The airline companies cannot be allowed to exploit customers like this therefore, the maximum limit on rent should be fixed.
The committee has also criticized the Civil Aviation Ministry in this case and said that even though knowing everything, the ministry did not take any active step in this regard.
In the past, there have been instances of employees of airline companies behaving in a rude manner and beating passengers
The committee has also shown its concern and resentment on this.
By taking the name of Indigo, the leading airline company of the aviation sector, the committee has made a strong comment in its report and has instructed its ground staff and cabin crew to change their behavior.
During the meetings of the committee, many members, while expressing their hopes, claimed that airline staffs think travelers to be uneducated and even like animals.
The committee has warned that such behavior of employees should end.
The Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation present in a meeting of the Committee assured the members that immediate steps are being taken in such cases. The Secretary said that the airline employees who are found to be involved in such activities will not be allowed to enter any airport in the country as an employee.
The committee has suggested that airline companies should arrange such training for all their employees, so that they can be more sensitive to the passengers.
During the review of this subject, many other examples of arbitrariness of airline companies have come to the fore in front of the committee. Delay on check-in counters are one of them. The committee has made some strong comments about it.
According to the report, the check-in process on many airports is long and annoying. Unlike the claims of airline companies, it has been found that these companies, especially the low-cost air carrier such as Indigo, the condition of their check-in counter was in bad shape.
The committee claimed that these long counter are deliberately placed so that the passengers take a lot of time to check the luggage so that they can miss their flight and then they will be forced to take expensive tickets for the next flight.
In this case, the committee has instructed all airline companies and government to make such arrangements, so that a passenger does not have to wait for more than 10 minutes in check-in counters.
For this, the airline companies have been asked to keep an adequate number of employees.
In its report, the committee has expressed surprise over the fact that the cancellation of air tickets has become so expensive in the absence of traveling.
The committee has recommended fixing the price for the cancellation of tickets to 50% of base fares and also suggested that tax and oil surcharges included in ticket rent should be returned to the passengers.
The Committee, which is headed by Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Derek O'Brien, has given several other suggestions like facilitating the security check of the passengers, making more air travel for passengers in aircrafts and cleaning of airports.