Not-so-cheap tickets: Two airlines fined for misleading customershttps://indianexpress.com/article/business/economy/not-so-cheap-tickets-two-airlines-fined-for-misleading-customers/

Not-so-cheap tickets: Two airlines fined for misleading customers

Kingfisher Airlines, which now owns Deccan Aviation, and Jet Airways India have been ordered to deposit Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, respectively.

Holding that the action of Indian airlines companies in advertising airfares at “throwaway prices, ranging from Rs 0 to 999” while actually providing them to the passengers at much higher prices amounted to unfair trade practice, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissioner (NCDRC) has imposed heavy compensation to two such companies.

Kingfisher Airlines, which now owns Deccan Aviation, and Jet Airways India have been ordered to deposit Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, respectively, as compensation in the Consumer Welfare Fund set up by the Government of India within six weeks.

A Bench of Justice V K Jain and Dr B C Gupta also directed the airline companies “to refrain from issuing advertisements which don’t even disclose even the minimum total amount payable by a passenger on any sector of the said carrier”.

Deciding the plea filed by NGO Jagrut Nagrik and Vadodara resident Pratik Gandhi, the Bench also directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Director General of Civil Aviation to issue guidelines to ensure strict compliance of the judgment by all airlines.

Advertising

In their complaint, the NGO and Gandhi had pointed out that while airlines advertised airfares from 0 to Rs 999, the passengers ended up paying much more, which included fuel surcharge, congestion charge and transaction fee. The complainants had sought Rs 10 crore as “punitive charges” from each respondent airline.

In their stand, the Ministry and DGCA claimed that the tariff for domestic air travel was not regulated by them and the same was left to be determined by the market forces of demand and supply.

Virtually all airlines companies also claimed that there was nothing illegal in their advertisements and there was no attempt to mislead the passengers.

They also pointed out that the advertisements also categorically said the taxes and surcharge would be extra.

To this, the NCDRC observed that that while in some cases, this was actually stated in the advertisements, the same was in very small print, “which an ordinary reader is not even likely to notice, considering the much bigger size of the letters used for printing the amount of Rs 500”.

“Admittedly, the total amount payable by a passenger travelling on any sector of Jet Airways was much more than the aforesaid amount of Rs 500,” the Bench noted, adding that the advertisement disclosing only the minimum basic fare to the potential consumers is to say the least misleading, when viewed in the light of the fact that the other charges payable by a passenger far exceed the said minimum basic fare”.

Compensation to go to consumer welfare fund:

Kingfisher Airline, which now owns Deccan Aviation, and Jet Airways India have been ordered to deposit Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh, respectively, as compensation in the Consumer Welfare Fund set up by the Government of India within six weeks

Deciding the, plea filed by NGO Jagrut Nagrik and Vadodara resident Pratik Gandhi, the Bench also directed the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Director General of Civil Aviation to issue guidelines to ensure strict compliance of the judgment by all airlines

In Their, stand the Ministry and DGCA claimed that the tariff for domestic air travel was not regulated by them and the same was left to be determined by the market forces of demand and supply