Ground Report | New Delhi
At a time when the Centre claims to make efforts to restore normalcy with regards to traveling to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), airlines are out to plunder the people of the union territory (UT) as flying to Singapore from Jammu is now cheaper than flying from Jammu to Srinagar.
As per the rates available on the websites of MakeMyTrip, Air India, Go Indigo, among others, the airfares for the route Jammu-Srinagar on February 29, 2020, across are costing over whopping Rs 32,000 per passenger.
On the other hand, if one wants to fly to Singapore, the airfares are ranging from ₹21,412 to ₹22,678 which is substantially less than the fare to Srinagar.
“The inclement weather in winter leads to closure of the highway, of which the airlines take advantage and inflate airfares at unsustainable levels. Why is the government not doing anything about it?,” asked a Jammu based anxious passenger.
Air distance from Jammu to Srinagar is just over 140 Kms, which makes the price levels even more eyeballs worthy.
Another passenger says the dilapidated condition of Jammu-Srinagar national highway is proving a blessing in disguise for the airlines who make huge profits from common people whenever the highway shuts.
“The same situation emerges in December every year when people travel back and forth between Kashmir and Jammu,” says a passenger. Though airfares most of the times are not as high as ₹32,000, they remain highly expensive through the winter every year.
The Crime Branch of Jammu and Kashmir Police summoned on February 11, 2020, the Sales Managers and other officials of all the Airliners operating out of Srinagar Airport for selling tickets on Srinagar sector at exorbitant rates.
The Crime Branch, as per the reports, has registered cheating cases against ticketing agents and airlines operating in J&K on February 8, 2020, under Section 420, 468, 471, 409 r/w and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.
As per the norms of the Director General of Civil Aviation, travel agents have to give the names of the group travellers seven days in advance but the agents under question are alleged of selling group tickets a couple of days before the travel date at exorbitant rates and airlines were helping them in blocking these tickets.
\As per the media reports that came to the fore last week, the airlines’ staff was helping agents in such sales, for which they were receiving the share in return.
Last year, the J&K government asked airlines to devise ways so that airfares do not skyrocket during the peak-demand season or as and when Kashmir’s road links to other parts of the world are blocked.
“You are requested to implement instructions issued by the advisor in letter and spirit with immediate effect in the interest of the general public and tourists in particular,” reads a letter from the Directorate of Tourism, Kashmir, to various airlines.