Kashmir Inc for capping of airfare to Srinagar

Soaring fares denting economy; tourism worst hit
The tourism industry has been worst hurt by increased airfares as they have begun to hear complaints from potential tourists about expensive tickets.
The tourism industry has been worst hurt by increased airfares as they have begun to hear complaints from potential tourists about expensive tickets.ANI

Srinagar: There is an increasing demand for capping air ticket prices on the Srinagar air route due to the fact that the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is very susceptible to weather vagaries, which creates problems for the business community and the tourism industry.

Businessmen who have to go outside of J&K for work are postponing their plans due to the unheard of price increase for flights to Kashmir.

For tourists, flying to Dubai is less expensive than Kashmir, and patients have to shell out a fortune on air travel.

In order to support the regional economy and encourage tourism, the business community in Kashmir has asked the Centre to set a limit on the amount that airlines may charge for flights to Kashmir.

Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) President, Javed Ahmad Tenga said KCCI had brought up this matter at several levels, including with the Union Aviation Minister.

“We are hopeful that there will be some action. We are requesting that the government enact the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee, which made it abundantly clear that some domestic airline operators were forcing high fares on passengers while deceiving the public with their cost-cutting strategies,” he said. “We want the government to put a cap on airfares as we have seen that whenever there is a good tourism influx or Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is closed, the fares shoot up forcing people to pay through the nose which is an unethical trade practice.”

Kashmir Traders Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) President Muhammad Yaseen Khan urged the government to take harsh action against individuals responsible for arbitrary price increases in airfare.

“Apart from tourism, other economic sectors are losing out on business possibilities because of high airfares. Today, businesses are delaying their plans to go outside of J&K to make purchases because they believe that doing so will cut their profit margins in half,” he said.

The tourism industry has been worst hurt by increased airfares as they have begun to hear complaints from potential tourists about expensive tickets.

Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club Chairman, Mushtaq Chaya said, “The cap on airfares is necessary so that tourists can still afford air travel. The tourism sector is badly hit by the rising airfares, which has made travel to Kashmir costlier in comparison to foreign destinations.”

Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Kashmir, President, Farhan Kitab said that businessmen were suffering badly due to rising airfares.

“We are shying away from travelling outside Kashmir due to rising airfares, there should be a limit on fares that air carriers should charge,” he said.

Those in Srinagar, who need to travel to other areas of the country for work, school, or medical issues, are facing even more difficulties as a result of the skyrocketing expense of air travel.

Many travel agencies have heard of travellers, particularly groups, cancelling their travel plans because their previously scheduled itineraries have suddenly become unaffordable.

Due to excessive prices that have exceeded permitted budgets, certain government departments and agencies are also reporting changes in outbound and inbound travel plans.

Crime Branch, Kashmir, of J&K Police in 2020 registered a case against travel agents and airlines operating in J&K under Section 420, 468, 471, 409 read with and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

The action was taken after the Crime Branch received complaints from various travel agents associations and trade bodies through the Tourism Director regarding the alleged sale of air tickets by various travel agents at exorbitant rates, acting in league with airline staff.

The Crime Branch conducted an inquiry based on these complaints, which revealed that the officials of various airlines sold group tickets in bulk in the name of passengers who are not members of any group and neither have sought tickets as group members.

The tickets obtained in advance by the travel agents as group tickets were then sold in black at exorbitant prices as individual tickets in violation of the terms and conditions of airlines for a group booking, Police had said.

It had said that it transpired that the airlines, by selling bulk tickets in advance to travel agents, created an artificial and imaginary shortage of online tickets for the general public, which directly impacted the price index and resulted in high inflation in air travel rates, thus paving way for fleecing of the general public by travel agents, who, by purchasing tickets at a very low cost, sold them at high rates.

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