The DGCA Orders Airlines to Submit Data on Fares for India-UK Flights

The aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation(DGCA), has asked the airlines to submit the details about fares on the India-UK flights during August. On August 7, 2021, the Secretary, Inter-State Council Secretariat, Union Home Ministry, Sanjeev Gupta, pointed out that the economy-class ticket on the British Airway’s Delhi-London flight for August 26 was priced at ₹3.95 lakhs.

In a Twitter post, Gupta shared the price details on the designated dates indicating the high fare despite the ticket not being for a first-class cabin. He also mentioned that he alerted the Union Civil Aviation Secretary, P S Kharola about the matter in his post.   

The DGCA, upon learning the massive surge in the fare of the flight between India and the UK, asked the airlines to submit details on the flight price they have been charging. According to the data collected by DGCA in August, the minimum airfare on the Delhi-London route was priced above ₹1 lakh due to the limited number of seats. 

No Upper Fare Limits on International Airfares

The government of India has set lower and upper limits of all domestic airfares since May 25, 2020, setting a general rule not to overcharge the passengers. In the pandemic world, it has been necessary to monitor the airlines’ airfares charges globally closely. Only a few aircraft from airlines can make the flights with a drastic decrease in the demand for air travel. In such circumstances, the carrier operating with few limited passengers started charging flight prices way over the pre-covid period. As the cost per flight is consistent even if the number of customers is low, so the air carriers have started coping with the cost-efficient approaches operating with narrow-body or smaller aircrafts capable of handling the flow of the demand. 

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Likely, the flight fare has also been set accordingly, no to overcharge the travelers. However, authorities determining the lower and upper limit of the operating carrier internationally hasn’t become mandatory policy yet. Even though India has set the limiters for all domestic air travel, there has been no sign of such limits on international flights.

The scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, although limited special international passenger flights have been operating in the country since July 2020. The Indian special international passengers flights have been operating under the bubble arrangements formed with 28 countries worldwide, including the UK.

Also, the UK recently moved India from its “red” listing to “amber.” The upgrade in color code means that the fully vaccinated Indian passengers won’t have to go through the 10-days mandatory hotel quarantine in Britain.

Surge Amidst College Admission Season

The fares have been relatively high during the peak season of college admission in the UK, which has been the education hub for students across the globe pursuing their degrees from prestigious universities. At the high time of college admission, the surge in airfare is expected to stoop a high expense on the students if this continues.

British Airways, which is charging ₹3.95 lakhs for economy class flights, and other airlines like  Air Vistara and Air India have kept the price range between ₹1.2 lakhs to ₹2.3 lakhs for the economy class ticket on the Delhi-London flights. 

Vistara A320neo VT-TYB Photo by Eurospot

Air Vistara, on a statement related to the high airfare charging, said that “Pricing is always a function of supply and demand” on Sunday, August 8, 2021. The Indian carrier stated that the authorities have only allowed 15 flights per week on the India-UK route, which has influenced the price of the flights.

With the limited travel slots, price modeling might have been changed to cope with the demand and sustain the operating service. Further, the airlines anticipate that when the capacity of air travel increases, that will also bring the proportionate change in the airfare of the flights. Air Vistara currently operates flights on Delhi-London and Mumbai-London routes. 

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