Government advises airlines to increase capacity to control air fares

The government has advised airlines to increase capacity to keep a check on soaring air fares, official said on Tuesday.

A senior DGCA official said the government did not issue a directive, but advised airlines to increase capacity and keep fares in check.

The regulator is undertaking sector-specific reviews on price hike.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and all the airlines had a meeting on Tuesday.

Domestic airlines are already advised by the government not to go in for predatory air fare pricing as several 737-MAX aircraft were grounded due to safety reasons in the wake of a plane crash in Ethiopia.

India suspended operations and overflight permission for all Boeing 737-MAX aircraft in India from 4 p.m. on last Wednesday.

Since March 14, air passengers have faced the grim prospect of high air fares and fewer flight choices as several airlines cancelled operations for a number of reasons, including the grounding of the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft.

Industry insiders says that with no short-term relief in sight, some sectors will continue to see a rise of more than 100 per cent in last minute bookings.

Operations of airlines like SpiceJet and Jet Airways have been hit due to the government’s decision on last Wednesday to join a global grounding of 737-MAX aircrafts following a crash in Ethiopia.

In India, SpiceJet and Jet Airways operate 17 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft – Spice (12) and Jet (5). A part of Jet’s fleet has already been grounded due to other reasons.

Apart from SpiceJet, financially challenged Jet Airways has already grounded more than 40 aircraft due to non-payment of lessors’ dues. The Jet Airways Group operates a fleet of 123 aircraft.

However, around 50 per cent of its fleet is said to be grounded due to a host of reasons, including lack of spare parts.

Pilot shortage is has badly affected the affordable IndiGo, leading to a decrease in flight schedule.

The airline said earlier that 30 of its flights that have been affected represent only 2 per cent of its network. It has decided to curtail its schedule till March 31, by about 30 flights a day.

For some time now, Air India has grounded 17 aircraft due to technical reasons. The national passenger carrier has also cancelled several international flights on account of low passenger yields on the sectors which include Delhi-Madrid.

The airline said that 6 international flights from Delhi to places like Birmingham have been cancelled.

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