SRINAGAR — The Airlines are charging hefty fares for those who travel from Kashmir to other parts of India prompting the stakeholders to seek a cap on the exorbitant rates. After senior Congress leader and former union minister, Prof. Saif-ud-din Soz, last Saturday appealed Governor Satya Pal Malik to direct Airlines operating in Jammu and Kashmir not to charge hefty rates, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has called for bringing in air travel under the essential services Act. Soz earlier said that, “ The airlines do not feel that they have any social responsibility. They exhibit behaviour as if they are a community of Baniyas.”
KCCI president, Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, said that, air travel “ being the only form of travel available to the consumer during winter months, the government should consider declaring air travel as an essential service and bring it under the relevant Act to cap airfares.”
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The closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway due to heavy snowfall during the past week has resulted in sky-rocketing of airfares to and fro from Kashmir Valley. The surge in demand for airline tickets has resulted in an “astonishing increase in passenger fares for flights operating to and from Srinagar airport.”
The tickets for flights to Jammu, less than 30 minutes by air, went up to several thousands.
The members of the tourism industry have also expressed concern over the high fares for Srinagar-bound flights which has “a negative impact on tourism” and demanded government intervention to ensure affordable fares. State government had earlier approached Union Minister for Civil Aviation “to flag exorbitant fares on routes in and out of the Valley” and asked Delhi to direct airlines to “maintain reasonable fares.”
“In the DGCA there is a provision for what they call excessive and predatory fare which the DGCA is supposed to regulate,” said an official. He said exploitation of “consumers by the airlines, which take advantage of bad weather conditions and closure of Srinagar, need to be urgently checked.”
Earlier the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism and Culture recommended a slew of measures to the Union Government which include effective way of “releasing funds, keeping air fares under reasonable limit” in the state.
It has said that the “exorbitant air fares particularly during peak tourist season is creating hurdles in promotion of tourism and necessary measures must be taken to keep the air fares for Jammu and Kashmir during peak tourist season under reasonable limit.”