Parliament panel proposes issue of easy-to-understand Air Passenger Bill of Rights

A report submitted by the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture has highlighted, among other things, consumer service issues and the higher cost of last minute travel purchases.

In its 256th report, Issues Related to Improving Consumers' Satisfaction of Airlines, the committee has proposed a comprehensive review of all issues related to air passenger services and issue of easy-to-understand 'Air Passenger Bill of Rights'.

The civil aviation ministry said the entire aviation ecosystem have been working pro-actively to offer passengers the highest levels of service and address consumer grievances. The ministry said it has partnered with all key stakeholders to establish the innovative `AirSewa' platform and other modes of offering assistance to passengers.

While the number of air passengers has risen to 120 million, the number of passenger complaints has fallen to 10,000, the ministry pointed out, adding that the ministry and the industry have been working proactively.

The ministry proposes to undertaking extensive public consultations to finalise the same.

With the repeal of the Air Corporation Act in March, 1994 the government has dispensed with the provision of tariff approval.

Under the prevailing regulations, every air transport undertaking engaged in scheduled air services are required to establish tariff having regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, characteristics of services, reasonable profit and the generally prevailing tariff. The fares so established, are required to be displayed by the airlines on their websites in compliance.

''Airlines remain compliant to the regulations as long as the fare charged by them does not exceeds the fare structure displayed on their website. Any instance of predatory tariffs can be brought to the attention of the Director General of Civil Aviation so that action can be taken under sub-rule (4) of Rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. Anti-competitive practices are also within the purview and regulation of the Competition Commission of India,'' a civil aviation ministry statement said.

''Pricing deregulation has allowed competition to bring down prices dramatically in India, making it one of the lowest-fare markets in the world. Indian airlines follow globally accepted dynamic pricing practices. Please note that only between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of tickets are transacted at the highest fare basket. A capping of fares could raise prices for the 98-99 per cent of the passengers. The government is cognizant of emergencies or natural calamities, which cause a sudden surge in aviation demand. In such cases, the ministry works with airlines to create more supply by re-routing aircraft to the affected areas and ensuring stable prices,'' the statement added.