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NEW DELHI: Domestic airlines have lowered the overall airfares 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.

Airlines lower airfares by up to 25%

NEW DELHI: Domestic airlines have lowered the overall airfares 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 against exorbitant airfares had been a success, officials told PTI on Sunday. The fare hike had also led to a public outcry.

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

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

Two weeks ago, the lowest last-minute Delhi-Mumbai fare was about ` 17,000, even though holiday travel season had not begun.The lowest available fares at the same time last year was about ` 3,000 for Delhi-Mumbai and ` 4,000 for the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Kolkata sectors, they said.

The DGCA, headed by the newly appointed Mr E K Bharat Bhushan, and his predecessor Mr S N A Zaidi, now the civil aviation secretary, have held deliberations with airline representatives over the last two weeks.

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

On Monday, 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 ` 8,000 and ` 12,000, while that between Delhi and Coimbatore stood at an average of ` 7,000.

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