Policy issues: Company that collects the high air fares

There has been a policy problem against the company that collects the high fare from the passengers during pandemics.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) has formed a committee to study the airlines that charge higher fares on international flights. A five-member study committee comprising Director Dev Chandra Lal Karna, Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, representatives of the Tourism Board, and Tourism Traffic Police has been formed under the coordination of CAAN Director-General Rajan Pokhrel. 

Read More: Recommendation to increase in Airfares by 43 percent, to be applied from July.

Some companies have been charging expensive fares for passengers when a sufficient number of aircraft did not fly international flights during the pandemic. 

Before the pandemic, Australian fare was usually not more than Rs 80,000 (two-way). However, fares on this route (One way) have increased by about 60 percent in recent times. 

Not only this, but fares have also increased for Gulf countries, the United States, and Europe. 

As the second wave of Covid spreads, international freight rates have risen sharply due to compliance with health standards worldwide and a reduction in the number of flights. 

The CAAN has formed a committee to conduct a necessary study on unnatural fare hikes. Some other social crimes and punishments act does not have the authority to take action against international airlines. 

CAAN has given the responsibility to the committee to study whether the fraud in airfare can be dealt with under the Black Market Act. Spokesperson of the Ministry of Tourism Taranath Adhikari informed that the culprits would be punished based on the Black Market Act as there is no separate act on the issue of expensive airfares.

Read More: The Indian Embassy request Nepal to facilitate reasonable airfare for Indians

Rajan Pokharel, the coordinator of the study committee, said that new arrangements would be made in such matters by modifying the existing laws and regulations during the study. “So far, there is no question of who will take action if anyone found culprits in hiking airfares,” Pokhrel said.

The Air Division under the Ministry and the Authority, the Metropolitan Police Division, and the Ministry of Home Affairs have been informed about the black market of airfares. Pokharel said that a letter would be sent to the Home Ministry for action based on the report after the study.

Twenty-three people have complained

CAAN is claiming that they have been charged exorbitant fares. The study committee is studying based on this evidence. Discussions are also being held with the officials of airlines, travel agencies, Nepal Association of Tour and Travel Agents (NATA), concerned experts, and foreign employment associations.

“What we are looking at is the fare set by the airlines and the price paid by the passengers. It seems that there has been some manipulation in this,” said Pokharel, who is also the committee coordinator. It is mentioned that most of the complaints received by the CAAN were regarding the airfare of Europe, the USA, and the Gulf countries. International fares are being determined and distributed based on the Global Distribution System (GDS). 

With the outbreak of the second COVID-19, it is not possible to travel to the destination countries easily due to the security measures adopted. NATA Secretary-General Sudhir Upadhyaya said that the price of air tickets has gone up unnaturally due to the security measures and restrictions adopted by the destination countries. He said that international airlines have also increased airfares due to the quota system imposed on passenger traffic. 

According to Upadhyaya, the price of air tickets has gone up by at least 60 percent. Covid is also the reason for the increase in airfares now. According to General Secretary Upadhyaya, Nepalis going for foreign employment are more affected due to higher airfares. 

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