Aviation ministry asks airlines to limit number of ‘privileged’ seats

The civil aviation ministry on Friday asked airlines not to put a price tag to all seats in an aircraft and limit it to a few,which could be charged in case a passenger opts for it.

Written by ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: May 18, 2013 4:12 am

The civil aviation ministry on Friday asked airlines not to put a price tag to all seats in an aircraft and limit it to a few,which could be charged in case a passenger opts for it.

This has come after IndiGo,country’s largest carrier in terms of passengers flown,have put a price tag to all seats of its Airbus 320 aircraft,after the government allowed airlines to unbundle services and charge them.

“We have asked the airline to not charge for all seats in an aircraft and identify a few that should be put up for extra charge. We have not set any limit on the number of seats to be charged and asked the airline to decide on it and report within ten days,” aviation secretary KN Shrivastava said after a meeting with top airline officials.

The Indian Express had reported on Thursday that the airlines have put a price tag on each seat in,which the civil aviation ministry says was flawed.

Over the last few days,leading airlines have listed charges for some services since the government announced on April 29 that passengers could be made to pay separately for preferential seating,meals and drinks except water,use of lounges,carrying check-in baggage and sports equipment,musical instruments and luggage declared valuable.

IndiGo had announced a charge for all seats in its aircraft,in case of a passenger opting for it. Jet Airways had reduced free baggage limit and charges for seat selection in short-haul international sector. Air India had had also reduced free luggage limit.

In another move,the ministry has also extended the deadline of reducing the number of foreign pilots to zero by three years from December 2013 till December 2016.

“To ensure that some of our Indian commercial pilots licence (CPL) holders get a job,the airlines have been asked to hire more CPL holders in the airline,even as trainees,” Shrivastava said.

The Indian carriers have also seen a decline in number of expatriate pilots that has come down from 854 in 2010 to 324 in 2012. With the airline agreeing to hire two CPL holders for every expatriate,over 600 out of around 4,000 CPL holders in the country would be hired.

Shrivastava also said that the airlines were receptive to the government’s idea of creating an aviation ombudsman to resolve disputes in the sector.

The airline representatives wanted the ministry to come out with details of the scope and functioning of such an ombudsman and said that the ministry should open consultations with them.

In light of the government’s thrust towards promoting regional connectivity,the issue of Indian carriers acquiring smaller aircraft to operate to remote airfields and airports also came up at the meeting.

While some airlines have started acquiring smaller planes,representatives of some other airlines like IndiGo said that buying aircraft was a commercial decision and would depend on the business models followed by each individual airline.

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