The Department-related Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture has recommended that a mechanism should be put in place by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in coordination with Ministry of Tourism and airline companies to regularly monitor the flight booking portals or aggregators so that they do not indulge in unscrupulous practices by publishing incorrect information under the guise of selling “last seats”.
In such cases, the Committee recommends that the Ministry should consider issuing necessary guidelines to Airlines to direct these portals/apps to not publish such incorrect information and create an avoidable panic situation amongst the public.
The Committee, headed by V Vijayasai Reddy and constituted on September 13, 2022, also recommended setting up of a grievance redressal mechanism to deal with such complaints.
The Committee further noted that globally, ticket pricing is a well-developed, evolving process, controlled by algorithms.
“Presently, ticket pricing is based on airline experience and set parameters, and airlines legitimately seek to maximize profits made through ticket sales. Airline price algorithms are not made public and are a closely guarded secret,” the committee report read.
Further, the Committee observes that there is a lot of variation in User Development Fees (UDF), for domestic passengers, ranging from Nil to Rs 480 and for International passengers, from Rs. 52.56 to Rs 1200.
“The Committee desires to know the reasons for the wide variation in UDF rates both for domestic and international passengers which is one of the components of airfares, leading to rise in airfares,” the report said.
On charges levied by airport operators that are governed by the orders issued by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), the Committee recommended that as far as possible, there should be broader uniformity in terms of various fees being charged across all the airports in the Country. The Committee recommends the Ministry to look into the matter and issue necessary guidelines to all the airport operators to rationalise the fee/charges at different airports.