It said airlines who were found to have spiked airfares operating to an out of Trivendrum and Calicut, have been “advised” to “cap” the ticket rates.
Kochi airport has been hit by incessant rains which have wreaked havoc in Kerala. According to an earlier announcement, operations at the airport had been suspended up to the afternoon of August 16.
In a communication this evening, the Ministry said, “Cochin airport is closed for operations up to 8.30 AM of August 26”.
It said airfares on 18 domestic routes — 10 direct flights to and from Trivendrum and eight direct flights from Calicut are being monitored.
The Ministry’s advise to the airlines came as hundreds of passengers took to social media and other forums to vent their ire over the jacking up of airfares. Union Minister Sadanand Gowda “shamed” the airlines for making money out of the passengers’ plight.
“Today Mangalore to Bengaluru ticket rate is sky rocketed to Rs 18,000. This route average is never more than Rs 4000. It’s time to introduce more flights,” he tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted saying, “we have advised airlines to be more sensitive to situation arising out of #KeralaFlooding &keep airfares in check.
“It’s a humanitarian cause Thx to all for agreeing with my suggestions to carry free of charge the #KeralaFloodRelief related material (sic),” he said.
The Ministry also asked the airlines to reshedule their flights without any additional charges in the interest of passengers travelling to Trivendrum and Calicut for onward journey.
The Ministry’s communication also said that DGCA has approved resheduling of flights of international carriers to Trivendrum from Kochi. They include Air Arabia from Sharjah, Emirates from Dubai, Fly Dubai from Dubai, Omar Air from Muscat, Qatar Airways from Doha, Saudi Arabian Airlines from Jeddah and Srilankan Airlines from Colombo.
Prabhu in a separate tweet said that his ministry and domestic airlines will be extending full support to the Kerala Government in airlifting food items and other relief material free of cost on their scheduled services, subject only to operational constraints, if any.
Meanwhile, domestic carriers including Air India announced waiving penalties till August 26 on cancellations, re-issuance of tickets or change of dates.
“#update flts Ops at #KochiAirport suspended till 1400 hrs of 26thAug. No penalties levied on re-issuance date change no-show canellation & refund charges from/to Kochi on Domestic and Intl flts, on tickets issued on or before 14thAug for travel from 15thAug to 26thAug,” an Air India tweet said.