Taking NE Air Travellers for a Ride
Airfare to the north-eastern states will soon go through the roof. This is not something new as airlines look to maximize profits during festive season, taking advantage of the heavy rush. The airlines know too well that people from the region will go home to spend their time with families and friends during Christmas and New Year, and the helpless public has no other option but to dig their pockets to reach their destinations. This unreasonably practice in the airline industry, driven by supply and demand dynamics, has to stop as it’s like a daylight robbery. Many are deprived of spending quality time with their near and dear ones during the festive season because of the trend, while those who do have to spend an exorbitant price in tickets.
The Civil Aviation ministry, on its part, should not remain a silent spectator on unreasonable hiking of airfares in the region and punish those flouting its directives. The parliamentary standing committee has already asked the airlines to maintain transparency and earn a reasonable profit through tickets sale. But in reality, random hiking of airfare has become a common practice and air travellers at their wits’ end. It may be mentioned that more than 10,000 complaints have been lodged against various airlines for arbitrarily pricing air tickets, during the last one year. It is high time the Centre stops the airlines from being too profit-driven while ignoring social responsibility.
As the airlines continue to sidestep the social responsibility aspect, especially when the demand for air tickets surges, the people of the north-eastern states always find themselves at the receiving end. But due to the geographical location, railways have not reached even the capital cities of some state in the region. Road connectivity is very poor in most places. For instance, till recently, Tripura was only accessible by air from the mainland. The opposition Manipur faced when it hosted the National Games was that the athletes from mainland states would not be able to perform well out of fatigue as they had to travel a long distance to reach the venue. Air travel is not a luxury, but for the region, it is a necessity. In this context, it will be appropriate for all the state governments of the region to unitedly urge the Central government to take necessary steps to prevent unreasonable pricing of air tickets. There should be a permanent guideline on airfare, considering the geographical distance and poor connectivity in the region. Airlines should not be allowed to take air travellers and people in the Northeast for a ride.