Domestic air travel expanded 16% in October from the year earlier and carriers responded to the surge in demand by raising fares, arousing the government's concern. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said on Monday that 4.61 million people flew in the month, which marks the onset of the peak winter season for airlines, up from 3.96 million a year ago. The regulator sent a notice to the airlines last week, questioning them about the sudden increase in some fares. "The DGCA has been serious about it. We also expressed our concern and intervened...regarding the sudden fare escalation," aviation minister Praful Patel said in New Delhi on Monday. "There is no flight that is going empty," he said, estimating a 25% growth in traffic for the year ending March. Delhi-Mumbai one-way, economy class tickets are being priced as high as Rs.17,917, or about four times what they used to cost. Business class tickets on the same route have gone up to Rs 35,000, or nearly equal to a Delhi-London return economy fare.
DGCA has asked the airlines to "furnish a copy of the routewise tariff across its network in various fare categories, in the manner it is offered in the market, to DGCA on the first day of every calendar month". The circular said any "significant and noticeable change" in the established tariff already filed should be reported to DGCA "within 24 hours of effecting such changes". Jet Airways (India) Ltd, the country's biggest airline by passengers, said international sales have risen 12 months in a row from the year-earlier months. Domestic sales have risen 11% in October, it added. It had 26.2% of the domestic market, followed by Kingfisher Airlines Ltd with 19%, Air India with 17.7%, IndiGo with 16.8%, SpiceJet with 13.6% and GoAir with 6.6% in October, according to the regulator. During October, at least 726 passengers with confirmed tickets were denied boarding, forcing airlines to pay '16.10 lakh as compensation to them. About 4,786 were affected because of cancelled flights, for which airlines paid Rs.6.41 lakh as compensation in total. About 27,635 passengers faced flight delays, DGCA said.