Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has hit out at senior Congress leader KC Venugopal for his sharp remarks over “skyrocketing airfares”, calling it “ill-informed” and shocking”.
Lashing out at the BJP-led Central government, KC Venugopal had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks that people wearing hawai chappals (slippers) can now travel in aeroplanes, sounds like a “cruel joke”.
In a point-wise rebuttal, Mr Scindia said the Indian economy continues to stand as a beacon of hope at a time when the global economy continues to struggle.
In a series of tweets, the Congress leader had highlighted six points and questioned whether the government had any intervention planned to check airfares.
“These skyrocketing airfares are creating havoc among the middle class. The government’s complete free pass to the airlines, coupled with their rampant privatisation spree, is responsible for the dire situation today. The @MoCA_GoI must confront some hard facts,” tweeted KC Venugopal.
In his response, Mr Scindia said the government has advised airlines to self-regulate their fares.
“As former Minister of State for Civil Aviation, it is highly shocking that @kcvenugopalmp Ji has made such undiscerning & ill-informed remarks on the aviation sector. We have advised airlines to self-regulate their fares under a certain limit – the result of which is that prices have come down by 14%- 60% since 6th June 2023,” Mr Scindia tweeted.
In another point flagged by the Congress leader, Mr Scindia said the sector has been truly democratised under the leadership of PM Modi.
Regarding Mr Venugopal’s question on why the ministry allowed flight prices from Bhubaneswar and Kolkata to go out of control when the Balasore train tragedy took place, he said: “Again, I would like to update you that within 24 hours of the Odisha incident, an advisory was sent by MoCA to all airlines to monitor any abnormal surge in airfares to and from Bhubaneswar. In a separate high-level meet, airlines were advised to keep a tight check on the pricing of air tickets, especially in times of calamity”.
“With Go First collapsing, and with SpiceJet barely flying any routes, why did the government have no strategy to correct this massive dip in the number of flights being flown?” Mr Venugopal had also asked.
Mr Scindia said, “A portion of the routes that were earlier being served by GoFirst have already been allotted to other airlines”.
“Also, you have chosen to turn a blind eye to the immense growth that this sector has witnessed since 2014. Passenger count which stood at 122 million in 2014 is currently at 280 million – a jump of 130%! Under UDAN, we have operationalised 475 routes and flown over 116.06 Lakh passengers,” he added.