CCI can act to bust pricing foul play by airlines

India's competition watch , the Competition Commission of India (CCI), which enjoys powers to act against cartels, may on its own launch probes against airlines in case it has reasons to believe that airlines are acting in collusion to charge inflated fares on key routes.

According to officials of the regulatory body who spoke to The Indian Express, if high fares prevailed a case may exist for further investigations and the body may initiate a probe invoking powers vested by the Section 3 of the Competition Act.

The Civil Aviation Ministry can at best issue stern warnings to airlines, it cannot take any action against them for inflating fares.

Airlines, though have submitted price bands arrived at on the basis of distance between two cities, to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The DGCA, however, does not enjoy any powers to regulate air fares.

According to unnamed sources in the ministry, the report said the DGCA can revoke airlines' licenses if they are found guilty of price gouging, but it had no powers to force carriers to reduce fares. The DGCA, on its part has called on airlines to ''bring in transparency'' to let passengers be aware of changes.

On Wednesday, airlines submitted their price bands to the DGCA according to which, domestic airlines could charge a maximum of Rs14,000 for distance up to 750km, Rs18,000 for distances between 750km and 1,000km, Rs25,000 for 1,000km-1,400km and Rs40,000 for distances above 1,400km.