Airlines Resort To Hefty Fares

SRINAGAR — The Airlines are charg­ing hefty fares for those who travel from Kashmir to other parts of India prompting the stakeholders to seek a cap on the exorbitant rates. After se­nior Congress leader and former union minister, Prof. Saif-ud-din Soz, last Saturday appealed Gov­ernor Satya Pal Malik to direct Airlines operating in Jammu and Kashmir not to charge hefty rates, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has called for bringing in air travel under the essential ser­vices Act. Soz earlier said that, “ The airlines do not feel that they have any social responsibility. They exhibit behaviour as if they are a community of Baniyas.”

KCCI president, Sheikh Ashiq Ah­mad, said that, air travel “ being the only form of travel available to the consumer during winter months, the government should consider declaring air travel as an essential service and bring it under the rel­evant Act to cap airfares.”

The closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway due to heavy snowfall during the past week has resulted in sky-rocketing of airfares to and fro from Kashmir Valley. The surge in demand for airline tickets has resulted in an “astonishing increase in passen­ger fares for flights operating to and from Srinagar airport.”

The tickets for flights to Jam­mu, less than 30 minutes by air, went up to several thousands.

The members of the tourism industry have also expressed con­cern over the high fares for Sri­nagar-bound flights which has “a negative impact on tourism” and demanded government interven­tion to ensure affordable fares. State government had earlier ap­proached Union Minister for Civil Aviation “to flag exorbitant fares on routes in and out of the Valley” and asked Delhi to direct airlines to “maintain reasonable fares.”

“In the DGCA there is a provision for what they call excessive and predatory fare which the DGCA is supposed to regulate,” said an of­ficial. He said exploitation of “con­sumers by the airlines, which take advantage of bad weather condi­tions and closure of Srinagar, need to be urgently checked.”

Earlier the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tour­ism and Culture recommended a slew of measures to the Union Government which include ef­fective way of “releasing funds, keeping air fares under reason­able limit” in the state.

It has said that the “exorbitant air fares particularly during peak tourist season is creating hurdles in promotion of tourism and nec­essary measures must be taken to keep the air fares for Jammu and Kashmir during peak tourist season under reasonable limit.”

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