Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has dragged airlines to the competition watchdog CCI following a steep 25 per cent hike in air fares in tandem over the past one week, alleging cartelisation by the operators.
In a petition to the Competition Commission chairman Ashok Chawla yesterday, the APAI has also accused the domestic carriers of resorting to fare hikes every time around the festive season.
"There has been a hike in the aviation turbine fuel a few days ago and all the airlines have increased the fares by 25 per cent one after the other. This clearly goes to show that a cartel is in operation," the Chennai-based association president D Sudhakara Reddy said in the petition.
Calling for immediate intervention of the Commission, the association said: "This is not the first time they have increased the fares in tandem and it has become a practice with all these airlines.
"If you notice, it is always done just before the festival season. We strongly believe that this cartel has been acting for the last three-four years."
Last week, all domestic carriers, including the national carrier Air India and another full-service carrier Jet Airways, apart from the budget-carriers, hiked fares in a quite move by massive 25 per cent, following a 6.9 per cent increase in jet fuel price by oil companies on September 1 as international crude prices shot over USD115 a barrel due to the Syrian crisis.
The fare hike was triggered by Chennai-based low-cost carrier SpiceJet, which increased fares by 25 per cent earlier last week, citing rise in input costs in the wake of the rupee fall and the steep spike in ATF prices. It can also be noted that the cash-strapped airline has been put on a cash-n-carry mode by airport operators since the past few weeks.
Jet and Air India too increased fares by a similar quantum. Market leader IndiGo and other budget carrier GoAir also followed suit with similar hike in fares.
However, none of the airline, including the listed ones - Jet and SpiceJet - has so far bothered to issue any official statement on the hike, including informing the exchanges, in sharp contrast to the ad blitzkrieg they resorted to when they announced special low fares earlier this year. They have also declined to take media queries on the issue.
Bringing to the Commission's notice that airlines did not even give any notice before the hike unlike when they lower