‘Govt Must Impose A Cap On Maximum Charge On Flight Fares For Srinagar’
The flight time to Srinagar is about half the flight time to the various metropolitan cities of India. Airlines list the flying time from Delhi to Bangalore at 2.50 hours. Flying time to Mumbai is listed at 2.15 hours. Flying time to Kolkata is 2.10 hours.
The flight to Srinagar takes 1.30 hours. Yet flight fares for Srinagar are the same as Delhi-Bengaluru, Delhi-Mumbai or Delhi-Kolkata. The flight fares for Srinagar escalate further during the summer holiday season.
During winter when the Jammu-Srinagar national highway gets closed, the situation gets worse. The fares for Jammu-Srinagar flights or vice versa are exorbitant during this period. The fares for the Srinagar-Delhi flights and vice versa stay high too.
The high fares from Delhi to Srinagar, or Srinagar-Delhi are the talking point in the Valley. There is a strong demand from the Valley that the government must rationalize the fares keeping in view flying time. It is also felt that from Delhi, it is often cheaper to fly to the Gulf countries than to take a flight to Srinagar.
KASHMIR CENTRAL spoke to some eminent individuals of the Valley regarding their feedback on the high flight fares from Srinagar to Delhi, and from Delhi to Srinagar. Read on.
‘Government must rationalize fares keeping in view flying time’
Farooq Amin, CEO, Kanwal Foods and Spices
Often, the flight fares from Delhi to Srinagar are completely crazy. I recently had to pay Rs 30,000 for a flight from Delhi to Srinagar. Does this exorbitant amount stand to any logic? This is not a one-off thing. Once the fare from Delhi to Srinagar was so high that I preferred to drive to Chandigarh and take the flight from there to Srinagar.
One observes a hike in airfares whenever there is high tourist inflow in Kashmir, like now. The airlines should have some maximum-fare bracket to increase the fares. As of now, the fare hikes seem to be following whims and fancies. They seem to be jacked up without any valid reason.
As a result, frequent fliers on these routes suffer. The patients who have to come to Delhi for treatment suffer. Students suffer.
I have observed this pattern for seven to eight years. Whenever summer holiday season comes, flight prices to Srinagar shoot up. One of the reasons for the hike is that most airlines sell a good percentage of their flight tickets in bulk to travel agents. The rest are sold to travelers at exorbitant fares.
After buying tickets in bulk, travel agents charge only about Rs 500 less than the airline and fleece the passengers. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation must address this problem being faced by the fliers. Some maximum possible fare must be fixed. The flight fares are outrageous at times. It will be a great contribution to the society if you address this issue in a focused manner.
‘No Rulebook Seems To Apply Here
Services Not Good, Airport In Bad Shape’
Zaffar Manhas, Columnist And Author
I am a frequent flier, and I have been observing that the flight fare from Delhi to Srinagar and back is very high as compared to other destinations. Rs 9,000 to Rs 15,000 if frequently charged for a Delhi-Srinagar flight. One cannot figure out what is the reason for such high air fare on this route.
It is sad that no rulebook seems to apply here. If you have only about 1 kg more in your luggage, the airlines insist on taking additional charges for the baggage. But there is no let-up in terms of fares.
Even if you book three days in advance, you find that the Delhi-Srinagar airfare is about 10,000. Services remain basic. There is no kayda or kanoon to the increase in air fare. What are the criteria for increasing the fare?
Srinagar Airport Needs Improvement
Have you observed the look and feel of Srinagar airport? Expect for the fact that is it air-conditioned, it looks like a bus stand.
This trend has been there for many years. Whenever tourist rush to Kashmir increases, the fares go up. There are no benefits for frequent fliers or for senior citizens. If the fares are so high, the service on the airlines too should also improve. But that is not done. The services are not passenger-friendly. Cattle class hi chal raha hai.
In winter, one has to pay as high as 20,000 for a flight between Jammu to Srinagar or back, especially when the national highway gets closed due to landslides etc.
‘Provide More Flights To Srinagar So Travellers Are Not Fleeced’
President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)
Whenever we talk to the authorities about high flight fares between Delhi and Srinagar, we are told that flight fares are determined by the demand and supply ratio. The question is – if the demand is so high and there is such unprecedented load, there should be higher flight frequency.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) must ensure that maximum flights are able to fly to Srinagar. Why should people pay so exorbitantly for the flights? Instead, infrastructure should be strengthened to meet with higher demand.
Currently, night flights not allowed due to some infrastructure issues. Hence within the give time slots when the airport is functional, more flights should be added. The Director of Srinagar Airport should initiate solutions.
Students, business persons, or those facing medical emergency – everybody cannot plan flights in advance. Buying at exorbitant rates is not the solution.
The UT Administration must intervene. The government must take care of supply side so that higher demand is accommodated within reasonable flight charges.
‘There Seems To Be Mafia Operation Of Airlines And Ticket Agents’
CEO, The Waterfall Café
Secretary General, Restaurants And Cafes Association of Kashmir
We face high flight fares in Kashmir frequently. We face it during the summer holiday season, and also during winter when the national highway closes down due to exigencies.
There seems to be a mafia operating between the airlines and the ticket agents. The agents purchase the tickets in bulk. The airlines have only a few seats left, and they increase the flight rates. The ticket agents sell at only about Rs 500 less than airlines. This way, they all make heavy profits while the fliers suffer. This has been going on for many years, but nobody has controlled this skewed situation in Kashmir.
The excuse taken most often is that the demand-supply equation determines the prices. But why does this equation apply to Kashmir only? If the demand is high, more flights should be added to the airport flight schedule so that fliers do not suffer. The situation now is that it is cheaper to travel to Dubai from Delhi, than to travel to Srinagar.
Tourists come to Srinagar because the weather here is good, and also because barring high-end properties, it is not an expensive destination. But if flight tickets stay high-priced, then the travel cost for the tourists escalates. Such high flight fares also lead to negative narrative locally. The government must impose some cap on flight fares.
‘Airport infrastructure is the biggest challenge we face here’
‘Passengers don’t get appropriate facilities. We can only provide basic services’
(An airport official who did want to be identified)
There are additional charges that fliers have to pay for using the Srinagar airport. There is User Development Fee. Much higher fuel taxes are paid by every airline in Srinagar. Locally, fuel taxes are levied at the rate of 28 per cent. The figures are lower elsewhere. It stands at just 1 per cent in Chennai.
These translate into crores in terms of additional costs for every airline in Srinagar.
The air traffic at the Srinagar air port is witnessing a record time high. We now have 54 flights from Srinagar. We have flights from 7 am to sunset. The cancellation of night flights due to some infrastructural reasons has further burdened the airport.
The bad state of infrastructure at Srinagar airport is for all to see. It looks more like an air-conditioned warehouse than an airport. There are some kiosks that sell overpriced stuff. Food quality isn’t much to speak of.
The passenger infrastructure is not of appropriate standard. The airport has the capacity to handle 5,000 passengers daily. Instead, we are handling 20,000 passengers daily. The airport can efficiently manage 20 flights. We are currently operating 54 flights. The space has not been utilized efficiently.
Airport infrastructure is the biggest challenge we face here. We faced these same problems ten years ago. Passengers don’t get appropriate facilities here. We can only provide the basic services.