2005: Domestic air travel has turned costlier for many Indians recently, with Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Sahara jacking up air fares in quick succession. Many Indians, not all. Black horse Air Deccan has held on to its rock-bottom prices, and Deccan tickets are cheap as ever.
The recent wave of air fare hikes happened with IndianOil increasing aviation turbine fuel prices. The fare hikes in many routes are as much as 12%.
Aviation fuel prices in India have gone up to Rs 32,250 per kilolitre in April, as compared to Rs 27,250 per kilolitre in March. The fare hike is immediate.
Jet fuel prices is the major factor determining air fares, accounting for about 25% of the cost of air travel. Any hike in aviation turbine fuel prices immediately impacts airline operations.
“We have seen a severe impact on the cost due to the fuel price hike. Such a massive hike cannot be absorbed. We may have to pass on a fraction of it to the customers,” a Jet Airways official was quoted as saying.
However, this theory did not seem to apply to Air Deccan.
Air Deccan ran newspaper advertisements on April 14, showing headlines of Jet, Sahara price hikes, with an Air Deccan alongside listing their cheap fares.
In July and October 2004, domestic airlines had raised air travel fares. So, this is the third time within a year that air tickets turn dearer for Indians.
In November, aviation turbine fuel prices had touched an all-time high of Rs 33,600 per kilolitre. This is much higher compared with the annual average price of Rs 21,000 in 2003-04.
The government is of the view that the airlines are not in a position to absorb the spiralling ATF prices. Besides, most international airlines operating in the country have imposed a fuel surcharge.
Meanwhile, the Union civil aviation ministry called a meeting of Indian domestic airline companies to discuss the poaching menace in domestic aviation. The airline companies have reportedly decided not to hire from each other. This comes in the backdrop of a severe shortage of pilots in the India, running into thousands. Earlier, it was reported that Air Deccan had sued Kingfisher Airlines for poaching its trained staff.
OUR AVIATION CORRESPONDENT