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India to Gulf airfares to fall as new flights launched

FDI in Indian aviation to boost competition in Gulf sector

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Airfares between India and the Gulf is expected to fall soon thanks to possibly increasing competition in the sector, an Indian minister said here yesterday.

India’s decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country’s aviation sector will help launch more flights between India and the Gulf, triggering more competition among airlines that will result in falling airfares, K.C. Venugopal, Indian minister of state for civil aviation, said.

He was addressing the third Global Meet of Overseas Indian Cultural Congress (OICC), an umbrella body of expatriate organisations affiliated to India’s ruling congress party’s unit in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Malaysia’s Air Asia has already entered the Indian market and it will reflect in airfares in India thanks to the competition, he said.

He admitted that as a minister he could not sort out the complaints from expatriates about exorbitant airfares charged by India’s state-owned carrier Air India Express, especially during peak season, because fares are determined by market conditions; the price increases when there is more demand, he said.

But he claimed he was able to sort out all other complaints and such actions have reflected in OTP [on-time performance] of Air India Express during past three months. “OTP was 95 per cent,” he said.

He said out of 101 complaints received from the Gulf, 96 were sorted out since he took over as the minister a few months ago.

He said launching of Air Kerala, the proposed airline to be promoted by the Kerala state government, will also ease air travel to the Gulf.

He said the Indian government will give certain exemption of rules to establish Air Kerala.

K.C Joseph, the minister for Non-resident Keralites, said the Kerala government has received assurances that the central government will exempt the rules insisting five-year domestic service experience and 20 flights for an airline to launch international services. “Ajit Singh, Indian civil aviation minister, in a recent meeting in the presence of Venugopal, has asked us to submit the official application in this regard,” he said.

Venugopal said the civil aviation ministry has prepared a contingency plan to evacuate Indians in large numbers from abroad in the event of any emergency.