Exorbitant flight fares; Centre must intervene: Kerala CM Vijayantext_fields
Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote Prime Minister Narendra Modi, briefing the exorbitant flight fares millions of workers have to pay. He said that these workers were sometimes forced to pay amounts worth several months of their savings, Asian News International reported.
Vijayan, in his letter, specified that the heavy airfares for passengers from Gulf countries during peak seasons or festivals had been a severe issue. These fares are not affordable to many, especially migrant workers, he said.
He continued that after the sharp increase in airfare and decrease in the number of flights in recent years, millions are forced to pay exorbitant prices for tickets. Airline operators have not responded favourably to migrant organisations' requests. The Government of Kerala also made requests in the recent past to fix airfares to reasonable levels, but in vain, the Kerala CM said.
Vijayan stated that airline operators had increased fares three times the normal over the past two months.
He requested the Centre to intervene proactively and initiate negotiations with airline companies flying flights in the India-Gulf sector to work on the airfares to make them reasonable.
"Three possible options are presently available to operate additional/chartered flights. The options are additional/chartered flights via 1) Indian Registered Scheduled Carriers, 2) Foreign Registered Scheduled Carriers and 3) Foreign Chartered Flight Operators. The number of seats available for sale to/from a foreign sector is determined through a bilateral agreement with the Government of India. As this permitted number of seats (Traffic rights) is fully utilised by the scheduled carriers currently, unless the Union Government grants exemption/relaxation, the scheduled carriers will not be able to operate any additional flights. Only by obtaining such approval from the Ministry of Civil/the foreign/Indian aircraft operator can operate additional/charter flights to India from Gulf," ANI quoted Vijayan's letter to Modi.
Vijayan said that considering demand, the Kerala government has decided to operate additional/Chartered flights at reasonable airfares during the peak/ festival seasons and vacations to the low-income emigrants in Gulf countries. He cited that the major festivals of Keralites, Vishu, Easter and Ramadan fall in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of April.
He requested in the letter directions to the civil aviation ministry to initiate necessary approvals immediately for Kerala's decided additional/ charter flight operations.