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'Foul Cartel' of airlines loots flyers, claims complaint to PM

Over last 2 months, all airlines started charging fares - presumably under a single slab, almost double the usual ‘normal fare’

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Until Feb 10, the passenger airfares of all airlines in the country were in the reasonable range of Rs1,500-Rs3,500 per sector in three slabs, says consumer rights activist Barrister Vinod Tiwari

Nagpur: As the pandemic tapered off in February, lakhs of excited families planning domestic vacations to exotic locales by flights got a shock bigger than a Covid-19 positive test report.

The airfares of all airlines to various destinations had suddenly shot up - and drastically - for seats on the trunk or non-trunk routes, irrespective of the flight timings, the particular carrier, the type of aircraft, direct or hopping services, the prevailing fuel prices, etc.

"Welcome to ugly world of 'Cartelisation' - witnessed in India probably for the first time... The airlines have colluded to hike fares phenomenally and indulge in open loot of the passengers, under the very nose of the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre," accused a prominent consumer rights activist Barrister Vinod Tiwari.

Tiwari is the President of Council for Protection of Rights of the NGO Grahak Bharti, Nagpur, which has red-flagged the alleged 'unofficial syndicate' involving most private airlines in India.

He contended that until February 10, the passenger airfares of all airlines in the country were in the reasonable range of Rs 1,500-Rs 3,500 per sector in three slabs.

If tickets were booked well in advance or at least 45 days before travel, the fares were very low, higher for 30 days slab, going up considerably as 'normal fare' for upfront bookings for less than 15 days travel dates.

For instance, the Mumbai-Nagpur fare was in the range of Rs 1,800-2,400-3,400, Nagpur-Delhi was Rs 2,400-Rs 3,400-Rs 4,500 in the three slabs, Mumbai-Delhi was Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000-Rs 4,000, and so on, for various sectors, depending on the travel dates.

"Now, past over two months, the scenario has changed and all airlines are charging fares - presumably under a single slab, which in many instances, is double the usual 'normal fare', and this unholy nexus has hit hard lakhs of holiday flyers on tight budgets in the country," explained Tiwari.

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