Unfair Fare|Air travel to Srinagar costlier than Dubai, Bangkok

Representational Photo
Representational Photo

Srinagar, June 4: It may sound unbelievable, but airfares from Delhi to Srinagar are significantly more expensive than tickets to overseas tourist destinations like Dubai or Bangkok.

Flights from Delhi to Srinagar cost between Rs 18,000 and Rs 21,000 while flights to foreign destinations like Dubai and Bangkok cost much less.

The cost of a ticket on July 5 from Delhi to Bangkok is Rs 13,574 and the cost of a ticket from Delhi to Dubai on the same day is Rs 16,749 per passenger, making it cheaper than air tickets to Srinagar.

The fact that airfares have nearly doubled has a severe effect on the tourist and aviation industries in Kashmir.

The current airfare from Srinagar to Mumbai ranges from Rs 17,000 to Rs 23,000 that used to be half the price previously.

In addition to impeding the travel plans of the tourists, the expensive prices are seriously affecting patients and students who have to travel from Srinagar to Delhi or vice versa. A senior civil aviation official here said that due to a combination of high demand and limited supply, mostly as a result of Go First’s operations being halted, airfares from Delhi to Srinagar, and Mumbai to Srinagar have increased significantly.

“Since local prices are far higher than those for some overseas locations, there have been rumblings about capping domestic airfares. Go First was widely present and held prime roles in several industries, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. People prefer to visit Kashmir during the summer, but the majority of them cannot afford to pay Rs 20,000 merely to go there,” he said.

Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club, Mushtaq Chaya said that the government should act against the rising airfares as it was shooing away tourists as well as causing problems for the local populace.

“The government should take harsh action against the individuals responsible for exorbitantly rising airfares, much to the chagrin of the local population and hampering the tourist influx to Kashmir. A mechanism to cap airfares should be put in place to prevent problems for everyone. Not only do tourists fly, but students, patients, and businesspeople make up the majority of those leaving Srinagar and bearing the brunt of this arbitrary price increase,” Chaya said.

A native of Srinagar Bashir Ahmad described his hardship of having to pay up to Rs 2 lakh for the travel costs of his family members who had to come home after a medical emergency in Delhi.

“I paid Rs 21,000 per passenger airfare from Delhi to Srinagar. We were 10 family members, and my total cost of air tickets was Rs 2.10 lakh. We went to Delhi for my mother’s critical surgery and also had our children there as we had nobody here to look after them,” he said.

The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has been unstable for the past few days owing to bad weather, leaving commuters with little choice but to fork over enormous sums of money to go from Srinagar or the other way around.

A House Standing Committee recently highlighted its worry that the high airfares imposed by some airline operators in the domestic sector, as well as the tactics being employed in costing, were misleading the public and pushing consumers to pay more.

“The level of misinformation can be gauged from the fact that even after the last tickets have been sold, the same number of seats are shown on the website, as indicated before the tickets sale. This indicates that airline operators are misleading the public and forcing passengers to pay more,” the panel said in the Demand for Grants (2023-24) report of the Civil Aviation Ministry.

It recommended that the ministry should formulate appropriate guidelines regarding the rationalisation of fares and publish the correct information on the website of the airlines.

It also pointed out that “predatory pricing” was being restored to by the domestic airlines sector.

“A particular airline may sell its air tickets at such a low level that other competitors cannot compete and are forced to exit the market. A company that does this will see initial losses, but eventually, it benefits by driving competition out of the market and raising its prices again,” the report said.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir