on them for charging very exorbitant prices

New Delhi: Domestic airlines have lowered overall air fares by 20 to 25 per cent after the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA cracked the whip on them for charging very exorbitant prices in the last few weeks.

The fares for tickets bought both at the last minute and in advance during November-December were however yet to return to the average levels during the same period last year.

The overall airfares on several sectors have come down in the past week, official sources said, adding that the 'pressure' mounted by the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) against exorbitant airfares had been a success, officials told PTI today. The fare hike had also led to a public outcry.

The DGCA and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had in the last few days warned of action if the errant airlines did not roll back the abrupt hike in air fares. Air fares, especially the last-minute or spot tickets, had skyrocketted even during the non-peak season.

The fare range on Delhi-Mumbai sector now was Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 on economy class ticket, while that on Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata it stood between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000, the officials said.

Two weeks ago, the lowest last-minute Delhi-Mumbai fare was about Rs 17,000, even though holiday travel season had not begun.

The lowest available fares at the same time last year was about Rs 3,000 for Delhi-Mumbai and Rs 4,000 for the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata sectors, they said.

The DGCA, headed by the newly appointed E K Bharat Bhushan, and his predecessor SNA Zaidi, now the Civil Aviation Secretary, have held deliberations with airline representatives over the last two weeks.

DGCA had a formal meeting with officials of the no-frill carriers – IndiGo, Spicejet and GoAir, yesterday following a directive asking all carriers to explain the high fares they were charging.

Tomorrow, the DGCA would meet representatives of full-service carriers – Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher.

The officials, requesting anonymity, said the last minute fares between Delhi and Cochin ranged between Rs 8,000 and Rs 12,000, while that between Delhi and Coimbatore stood at an average of Rs 7,000.

Airfare on the high-demand sector like Delhi-Leh stood at less than Rs 4,500 while those from the national capital to Kullu, Shimla and Dehradun ranged between Rs 6,000 and Rs 9,000.

Asked whether these fares were at the same level as last year, the officials said these were at least 20 per cent higher than the same period in 2009, if not more.

Rebutting Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya's statement that government should not regulate airfares, they said the basic intention of the government was to bring in more transparency in the fixing of fares by airlines.

"The passenger should know what they are paying," they said.

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