Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that millions of workers are forced to pay exorbitant prices for air tickets, sometimes to the tune of several months of their meagre savings, from Gulf countries to Kerala, especially during peak seasons or festivals.
In his letter, Mr Vijayan said that the exorbitant airfares from Gulf countries to Kerala especially during peak/ festival seasons have been a vexing problem for international passengers in the sector.
"These fares are unaffordable to many, particularly migrant workers," read the letter.
"Due to the sharp increase in airfare and decline in the number of flights in the recent year, millions of workers are forced to pay exorbitant prices for air tickets, sometimes to the tune of several months of their meagre savings. The airline operators have not responded favourably to various requests from migrant organizations and the Government of Kerala in the recent past to fix airfares at reasonable levels," the letter stated.
"Over the past two months, airline operators have increased airfares to more than three times the normal price for tickets. I request that the Central Government may intervene proactively and initiate negotiations with airline companies operating in the India-Gulf sector to ensure that they do not adopt an exorbitant pricing strategy during peak-demand occasions such as festivals and school vacations," it stated.
"Three possible options are presently available to operate additional/chartered flights. The options are additional/chartered flights via 1) Indian Registered Scheduled Carriers 2) Foreign Registered Scheduled Carriers and 3) Foreign Chartered Flight Operators. The number of seats available for sale to/from a foreign sector is determined through a bilateral agreement with the Government of India. As this permitted number of seats (Traffic rights) is fully utilized by the scheduled carriers currently, unless the Union Government grants exemption/relaxation, the scheduled carriers will not be able operate any additional flights. Only by obtaining such approval from the Ministry of Civil/the foreign/Indian aircraft operator can operate additional/charter flights to India from Gulf," the letter addressed to PM Modi added further.
"Considering the huge demand for Intervention during this festive season, the Government of Kerala has decided to operate additional/Chartered flights at reasonable airfares during the peak/ festival seasons and vacations to the low-income emigrants in Gulf countries. The major festivals for Keralites such as Vishu, Easter and Ramadan fall in the 2s and 3s week of April 2023," the letter stated.
"I request you to direct the civil aviation ministry to accord the necessary approvals expeditiously for additional/ charter flight operations booked by the government of kerala from the second week of April 2023," the letter added.
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