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Average airfares fell 18% in 2016: Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-05-2017 PTI

New Delhi: Average airfares dropped 18% in 2016 and additional capacities can further bring down the fares, Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Tuesday said, as he disfavoured the idea of capping ticket prices.

Scheduled airlines carried more than 10 crore domestic passengers in the year ended March 2017, an increase of around 19% compared to the same period a year ago.

Briefing reporters about the achievements of the ministry during the three years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime, he said the aviation ecosystem has been reshaped for affordable and convenient flying.

The civil aviation minister said average fares in the country had come down by 18% in 2016. “Average airfare fell by 18% in 2016 over average airfare in 2015, making air travel affordable for everyone with unprecedented capacity enhancement in aviation system,” as per a document released by the ministry at the press briefing.

There have been concerns over steep fluctuations in airfares and sometime back there have been suggestions from various quarters to have a higher limit for airfares. However, the ministry has been of the view that prices are determined by market forces.

Referring to “simplistic suggestions” like having caps and floors on ticket prices, the minister said floors and caps would push the cost of the tickets. “Strategies for additional capacities have to be brought in place because additional capacities will bring down prices,” he added.

Minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said on an average, air ticket prices have been coming down and are less compared to many other countries.

Among other initiatives, the ministry has launched the regional connectivity scheme Udan (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) where fares are capped at Rs2,500 for one-hour flights. “This idea (Udan) has come out of the BJP manifesto where it was a single sentence there. It took us sometime working on it,” Raju said.

The minister said he would like to see more airports coming up but there should not be any “flip flops”, an apparent reference to issues related to proposed aerodrome at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh. “The more the merrier. Let it be Haryana, let it be Uttar Pradesh... I would like more airports to come. We will promote any state government’s airport,” he added.

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