Ticket prices set by Air India for special international flights being operated under the Vande Bharat Mission are reasonable, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday.
“While rates being charged are not normal commercial rates, they are reasonable when compared to evacuation flights of other countries on the same sectors,” Puri said on Twitter.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express started operating international flights from May 7 onwards to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad. Between May 7 and June 1, Air India group has operated a total 423 inbound international flights under the mission, bringing 58,867 Indians back.
“Some people” have raised concerns about the rates being charged by Air India for the special Vande Bharat flights, Puri noted.
He also gave examples of fares charged by other countries to show that Air India’s rates are reasonable.
“Economy fare paid by travellers for evacuation flights organised by the concerned (US) Embassy from India was Rs 3.00 lakhs for Houston. Indians pay Rs 1.03 lakh on India-US sector (flights) under the Vande Bharat mission which is nearly one third,” Puri mentioned.
Similarly, travellers paid Rs 1.62 lakhs to Toronto and Rs 1.84 lakhs to Vancouver for evacuation flights organised from India by the Canadian High Commission, the minister said.
“Our citizens pay Rs 1.07 lakhs between India & Canada on Vande Bharat flights. The difference is stark,” he added.
While scheduled domestic passenger flights resumed on May 25 after a gap of two months, scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India.
“Travellers to Tel Aviv paid Rs 82,500 for their evacuation flights organised by the concerned (Israel) Embassy between Delhi & Tel Aviv while Indian citizens pay Rs 51,938 to fly between the two destinations. Very clearly, rates being charged by Air India for Vande Bharat are reasonable,” the minister said.
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