Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Sunday sought the immediate intervention of the central government to ensure that airfares to and from Middle East destinations, which have gone up a whopping 600 percent for the July-September period, be reduced.
Mr Chandy said airfares from and to the Middle East should not be based on the supply-demand policy.
"We are aware of the present scenario as the fares have all gone up dramatically with the holiday season in the Middle East fast approaching. I have written to the centre to seek immediate intervention to reduce the exorbitant fares," Mr Chandy told IANS.
The Kerala Association of Travel Agents (KATA) has alleged that the biggest gainers on account of the strike by the Air India pilots are the foreign airlines who are making a killing.
"The average price of a one-way ticket from any Middle-East country to Kerala which was in the range of Rs.6,000 to Rs.10,000 will be available in the market at the peak season of July to September in the range of Rs.25,000 to Rs.62,000," said KATA president KV Muraleedharan.
Mr Chandy said the high airfares will seriously affect the average Keralite, who wishes to come to the state during the vacation time in Middle East.
"In my last tenure as chief minister (2004-06), I did call a meeting (on the same issue), but today the situation is far different with market forces all the more strong. If need be, I will call a meeting here and at the same time put pressure on the centre," he added.
The July-September season sees the maximum traffic from the Middle East as schools have vacations there besides the Onam festival in August.
Mr Muraleedharan meanwhile suggested that the central government should immediately go ahead to implement the open sky policy and thereby allow more carriers to operate in the Middle East sector.