Govt asks airlines to check sudden hike, KCCI urges to bring airfare under essential service act

Welcoming the concern shown by Governor Satya Pal Malik and advisor Khurshid A Ganai over rising air fare, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) sought brining air travel under the purview of Essential Services Act.
In a statement, Senior Vice President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nasir Hamid Khan said that the KCC&I had been raising this critical issue for long and had also given several suggestions to the Government in this regard and urged for effective action.
He said vested interests are indulging in ‘blatant opportunism’ and ‘exploitation’ of helpless travelers. “The current policy is discriminatory in nature with one passenger paying Rs 2000 and another paying Rs 30000 for a journey of 300 to 700 kms.”
He said in view of road link to Kashmir being out of commission for most of the winter months, the only alternative mode of transport for the entire population had become a cash cow for vested interests.
Khan stated that this was not only a tourism issue but was a grave public interest issue in which a majority of the population was being exploited and held hostage.
KCCI said the consequences were serious for patients and their families who have to pay more for air travel than the cost of the medical treatment.
“Student and their families suffered equally. In addition, the tourism sector becomes out of bounds with entire packages to major tourist destinations costing less than the air travel cost to Kashmir. With the schools and colleges scheduled to open in March and a large number of members of the general public travelling back after the winter months, heavy traffic is expected in February.”
KCC&I also suggested purchase of block tickets by the State Government and fix quota’s for Medical emergencies, students and the private sector including tourism. KCCI also demanded substantial increase in the number of flights to this sector, initiate an enquiry into the alleged black marketing of tickets and identify the persons/organizations benefiting from this exploitation, overhauling of entry procedure at the Srinagar Airport to make it less harrowing. It also urged governor administration for taking effective measures to open all available road links to Srinagar round the clock.

The state government Tuesday asked airlines to devise ways so that airfares do not skyrocket during the peak-demand season or as and when Kashmir’s road links to other parts of the world are blocked.
At Rs 13,000 to Rs 17,000, a one-hour journey between Delhi and Srinagar was costlier than the six-hour Hyderabad-Jeddah international flight on Sunday.
Such exorbitant fares have outraged Kashmir residents and tourism players who see it detrimental to their business.
Even governor Satya Pal Malik apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the issue during his visit on Sunday.
On Monday, governor’s advisor Khurshid Ganai held discussions in this regard with tour operators and managers of various airlines.
“You are requested to implement instructions issued by the advisor in letter and spirit with immediate effect in the interest of the general public and tourists in particular,” reads a letter from the directorate of tourism, Kashmir, to various airlines.
According to tour operators, a sudden hike in airfare during peak tourist season or in times of emergencies occurs because travel agents sell the tickets at high prices after having bought them in bulk. The government has, therefore, asked airlines to sell a maximum of two to three tickets under one PNR and that too after bona-fide passengers furnish names and other details.

‘We Are Not Profiteers’
Ticketing Agents Forum on Tuesday denied they were selling air tickets at high prices.
Addressing a press conference, president of the Forum Suhail Ahmad Dar said such allegations by tour operators were “malicious and motivated”.
“Ticket sales are a matter of demand and supply and we cater to customers but are helpless before volatility of the market as we deal with dynamic fares,” said Dar.
Dar also urged airlines to operate more flights so that fares do not fluctuate wildly.