Thiruvananthapuram: With Kerala's festival of Onam round the corner, foreign airline companies and even Air India Express appear to be operating on the policy of making hay while the sun shines -- charging fares as much as 400 percent higher.
Kerala Association of Travel Agents president K.V. Muraleedharan told reporters here Friday that this has been the practice of airlines to fleece passengers during the peak season.
"The price of a ticket to Dubai which was around Rs 5,000 on Air India Express has now shot up to Rs 22,000 from any of the three airports in the state," Muraleedharan said.
"Other airlines also have announced their fares which have gone up from Rs 7,500 to Rs 28,000," he added. The other airlines incude Oman Air, Qatar Airways and Emirates.
"This is daylight robbery and Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, who belongs to Kerala, has to step in," Muraleedharan said.
The peak season for airline companies starts a week ahead of the harvest festival of the state - Onam. This time the Onam celebration week commences Sep 4, and soon after that many Keralites who have arrived from the Middle East start to return.
"The need of the hour is that Ravi should see that Air India Express immediately announces additional flights. That's the only way to bring down the present inflated air fares and also to reduce the mad rush to get a ticket to return," Muraleedharan said.
He also added that if Air India finds it difficult to operate additional flights, then the civil aviation ministry should announce an 'open sky policy' to clear the rush in the festival season.
Mathew John who came from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a short visit to see his new born boy is stuck because air fares have gone up hugely.
"I came to see my new born and I have been asked to pay Rs 16,000 for a one-way ticket to return to UAE. This is fleecing and it is very unfortunate that all this happens when we have a Keralite as the civil aviation minister," John said.
First Published: Friday, August 26, 2011, 16:12