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Even as AirAsia India's entry into the Indian aviation market is expected to herald a new round of fare wars, the Malaysia-based carrier's plan to charge a fee for all check-in baggage has been red flagged by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The DGCA, on Tuesday, asked the airline to withdraw a number of proposed charges, including the one on check-in baggage, as these were introduced without informing the aviation regulator.
AirAsia, which is launching its flight between Bangalore and Goa on June 12, has done away with the concept of free check-in baggage of up to a certain minimum weight threshold and has, instead, introduced charges for all check-in baggage. The charge for any check-in baggage weighing up to 15 kg is Rs 199 (if paid during the time of ticket booking) and Rs 300 for up to 15 kg (if paid at the airport counter). All other low-cost carriers operating in the country offer free check-in baggage of up to 15 kg and full-service carriers offer up to 20 kg free check-in baggage.
"We have asked the airline to withdraw charges for baggage and other services which were introduced without informing us," said a senior DGCA official. The official added that the airline representatives have also been summoned for a meeting on the issue on Wednesday.
While airlines in India have been allowed to unbundle services (charge for services), they have to inform the regulator before they introduce any such charge. In this case, AirAsia India did not inform the aviation regulator. A text message sent to the airline spokesperson on Tuesday evening did not elicit any response till the time of going to print. Industry players, however, feel that the charges are fine till they are transparent and the customers are aware of the same.
"The consumer of today researches enough before booking a ticket and would be aware about the charges. I do not know see any reason for this withdrawal unless the charges were hidden for the consumer," said Sharat Dhall, president at Yatra.com, a travel portal.