65% fliers want Government to bring back airfare capping as last minute fares spike; 85% also in favour of airlines mandatorily offering bereavement fares
- ● 79% find airfares of low-cost airlines at times to be higher than full service airlines
June 2, 2023, New Delhi: With all flights of Go Air being cancelled in early May, the airline passengers have reported on LocalCircles that they are experiencing new highs when it comes to airfares. Recently, fliers have written about being charged INR 35,000 for a Delhi-Leh one way flight, over INR 20,000 for a Delhi – Ahmedabad and Delhi – Nagpur flight and many more such examples have been shared.
On August 31, 2022, after two years, the government lifted the lower and upper limits placed on airfares to allow airlines more room to set their own fares and let market dynamics work in the interest of fliers. Despite easing of aviation fuel prices and passenger traffic growing sizably, air fares in most sectors have remained high.
With hundred plus complaints received since September last year on LocalCircles about higher air fares and in some cases consumers alleging profiteering by airlines with a fresh surge in complaints in May post Go First shutting flights, LocalCircles decided to conduct a national survey to better understand the situation and sensitize the Government. The survey received over 32,000 responses from consumers located in 303 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 46% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 20% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
65% airline fliers surveyed want the Government to bring back air fare capping
In a bid to find out what consumers think about the present scenario, LocalCircles in a survey asked airline fliers, “The government removed the price capping on the air fares effective September 1, with the current fares you are seeing, should the decision be reversed?” Out of 12,193 respondents, 65% stated “Yes” while 21% indicated “No” and 14% reserved their opinion.
People in the community discussions on LocalCircles have cited very relevant use cases like medical emergencies, family emergencies or death of a family member, relative or friend as common reasons for last minute travel. In most of these cases, people have reported being charged anywhere between two to six times of the generally available airfare for the sectors they travelled.
85% fliers surveyed want airlines to mandatorily offer bereavement fares so citizens don’t have to pay exorbitant prices for such travel
World over, airlines like Alaska, Air Canada, Delta, Hawaiian, WestJet etc. offer bereavement fares to citizens having to travel last minute due to death in their family or friends. Those availing such fares have to present some documentation related to the deceased and follow some regulations but are able to travel at a reasonable price. Given that such a practice is followed by airlines overseas, LocalCircles asked fliers “Should India based airlines be mandated to have bereavement fares so citizens needing to ticket last minute air travel (due to someone’s death) don’t have to pay exorbitant prices?” Out of the 10,846 respondents, 85% stated “Yes” while 8% indicated “No” and 7% did not have an opinion.
50% surveyed indicated low-cost airlines charging higher fares than full services airlines “very often”; 22% said “sometimes” 7% said “once in a while”
In complaints, members shared various examples of excessive fares charged by airlines including low-cost airlines where there is no food and seat selection making them realise that low-cost airlines in India are not low fare. Given such complaints, LocalCircles decided to quantify this issue to understand if these were more exceptions or the norm.
It asked airline fliers, “How often have you found in the last 12 months that the air fares charged by low cost (GoAir, Indigo, Spicejet, Akasa) are in fact higher than the full-service airlines (Vistara, Air India) for a similar flight (timing, stoppages)”. Of nearly 10,000 respondents to this question, 50% indicated “very often”; 22% stated “sometimes” and 7% “every once in a while”. Only 7% did not find this to be applicable while 14% gave no clear response.
Going by experiences of frequent fliers shared on LocalCircles and other social media platforms and a glance at the fares on offer on various booking platforms, airfares for direct flights even on low cost airlines match full service airlines across many sectors.
In summary, the survey finds that airlines are charging excessively high fares for last minute bookings post the removal of the airfare caps on August 31, 2022. Some consumers have equated this to profiteering and in the LocalCircles survey 65% airline fliers have demanded that the Government bring back the air fare caps so instancing of profiteering stop. The survey also finds that 85% fliers are in favour of airlines mandatorily offering bereavement fares so in the event of death in family/friends people don’t have to pay exorbitant last minute fares. The survey also finds that 79% of the airline fliers in the last 12 months have experienced one or more instances where low cost airlines were charging higher fare than full service carriers.
LocalCircles will escalate the findings to the Ministry of Civil Aviation such that these inputs from the airline fliers can be given due consideration and the appropriate policy interventions are implemented.
The survey received over 32,000 responses from consumers located in 303 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 46% respondents were from tier 1, 34% from tier 2 and 20% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.