A trader resorting to profiteering is liable to a penalty in the court of law on the charges of fleecing customers. But when airlines resorted to arbitrary hike in airfare by up to one thousand per cent, the government treated it as a norm. Why so? This question has been doing the rounds in Kashmir for the past decade as air travel in this region often become out of bounds for people who value their money.
Usually air-ticket on Srinagar-Delhi route costs around Rs 2, 500. But this time, when the Srinagar-Jammu national highway is closed in the wake of heavy snowfall, the air-ticket costs you anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000.
Amid such crises in the wake of bad weather, the government usually keep a check on complaints of black-marketing through mobile squads. However, the airlines enjoy impunity over such complaints. This typically abnormal hike in airfare is witnessed mainly during tourist seasons in Kashmir. That time a return ticket to Malaysia or Dubai costs lesser than Delhi- Srinagar one way airfare, something which hits the prospective tourist flow to the Valley.
As if all this was not enough, recently one of the private airlines for Kashmir hiked the airfare to shocking Rs 98,000 per head on this route. Interestingly, the same airline was charging a lakh for the return ticket from New Delhi to New York. The tourism players of Kashmir were shocked at the overpricing. The news spread like wildfire after which many of them approached Director Tourism Kashmir, Mehmood Shah.
Shah says he instantly summoned the airlines. “But they apologised pleading that it was an online error,” the Director told InUth.
On March 11, 2015, a demand to regulate fares charged by airlines was made in Rajya Sabha, with the Chair joining members to bring attention to the ridiculously high rates that these air carriers were charging. But till now the much-needed regulation is awaited.
Successive regimes in Kashmir, on the other hand, have equally failed to convince New Delhi over this injustice.
Ironically, this profiteering by airlines mocks at the mantra laid by Prime Minister Narendar Modi, who reiterates in his man ki baat: Na khaunga, Na khanay dunga!