India-Gulf flights: Court asks DGCA representation to hear petition filed by expat group over unreasonable airfares

News Network
August 24, 2022

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A High Court in India has asked a representation from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to hear a writ petition challenging the exorbitant prices of air tickets on flights operating between Gulf countries and India.

The petition, filed by Delhi-based political group Kerala Pravasi Association, in Delhi High Court challenged Rule 135(1) of the Aircraft Rules, 1937, stating that it is vague, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

The petition to the Court noted that airlines have been charging unreasonable, excessive, and prohibitive airfares for travel from the Gulf region countries to Kerala and the rest of India.

“Resultantly, Indian citizens who wish to travel to and from these countries primarily for employment, business, and education are facing grave impediments,” read the petition.

“Furthermore, it is submitted that such unreasonable and exorbitant airfares impose restrictions on air travel as a mode of transportation and, thereby, infringe the constitutionally protected rights of the Indian passengers to or from Gulf countries,” it added.

“I35. Tariff- (1) Every air transport undertaking operating by sub-rules (I) and (2) of rule 134 shall establish a tariff having regard to all relevant factors, including the cost of operation, characteristics of service, reasonable profit and the generally prevailing tariff.”

Although Rule 135(4) of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 (‘Rules’) empowers DGCA to issue directions to an airline in case it has established excessive tariff under Rule 135(1) or has indulged in oligopolistic practice; the said provision is rendered ineffectual on account of the arbitrary and unbridled powers given under Rule 135(1) of the Rules to the airlines to establish tariff.

The petitioners, Kerala Pravasi Association, seek urgent interim relief concerning tariffs established by the airline or the scrapping of Rule 135(1). According to senior members of the NRI association, this may be the first time a writ petition has been filed challenging rule 135(1). Kerala Pravasi Association is a political party registered with the Election Commission of India, and the group has chapters in various countries worldwide, including the UAE.

The petition on behalf of the NRI group was filed by senior Supreme Court advocate and managing partner at KNPM Law Kuriakose Varghese. Peak season India-UAE airfares can hike up to anything between Dh 1,500 to Dh 3,000, depending on the sector the passenger is flying. Kerala sector flights are among the most expensive, said Rajendran Vellapalath, the chairman of the Kerala Pravasi Association.

Varghese said, “The writ challenges Rule 135 (1) of Aircraft Rules, 1937. The pricing of airfares has to adhere to certain reasonable limits. Based on what the Court has ruled, we will not find a representation for the DGCA and take matters forward from there.”

Varghese said the practice of charging airfares based on market rates makes it highly lucrative and discretionary.

Vellapalath explained, “We are glad the High Court has not quashed our petition. Instead, we have been asked to speak with the DGCA. Based on their response, we are willing to take matters to the Supreme Court of India.”

However, while petitions of this nature have been filed before, not many courts get involved in such matters as they are tricky, stated Varghese.

“This is a matter of law being linked to economics. It is a very grey area of operation, and there is no transparency on the matter as stakeholders generally adopt a take it or leave it attitude, especially during peak travel time,” he added.

Moreover, several members of the Indian Parliament, community groups in the UAE, travel agencies, and other non-profit bodies have also raised this issue to no avail.

Vellapalath added, “When two countries are involved in bilateral discussions, the civil aviation governing body can determine what sort of fare needs to be levied on passengers travelling between the sectors. The government can place a minimum or maximum cap on the ticket prices.”

“The government capped prices on domestic flights during peak Covid-19. Why can’t the same be done for international airlines as well,” asked Vellapalath

According to Vellapalath, airlines have always maintained a lower capacity of operations between Gulf sectors to India during peak season. “The role of the government is to help its people, not allow airlines to make a profile. If there is a shortage of capacity, then let them increase it. The public must not be fleeced,” argued Vellapalath.

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News Network
January 27,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 27: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai appeared to have lost his cool as he snatched a microphone from the hands of a seer seated beside him during a public event on Thursday in Bengaluru's Mahadevapura to respond to criticism.

During the event, seer Eshwaranandapuri Swami raised the issue of flooding and poor infrastructure in the constituency and blamed politicians for the trouble.

Bommai responded saying that he is not someone who only gives assurances but someone gets work done. He added that he has released funds to find a solution to these problems.

A few months back, the residents of Mahadevapura were ravaged by floods following heavy rainfall affecting normal life. 

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News Network
January 24,2023

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Bengaluru, Jan 24: In a bizarre incident that seemed straight out of a movie, a crowd of people were seen trying to catch money showered upon them near City Market in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

A man on the BGS flyover was seen throwing down currency notes. The police are trying to trace who he is and he threw the money down.

The walkers and vehicle riders were taken by total surprise and couldn’t believe it when they saw currency notes of the denomination of Rs 10 started falling at their feet.

The development created a huge commotion in the usually crowded Kalasipalya locality. The notes currency notes were thrown from both the sides of the flyover.

The people went ahead in a mad rush to pick up the currency notes and created a traffic jam. The traffic policemen present at the spot were clueless.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (West) Lakshman Nimbaragi stated, “We don’t know much about the incident and once the inputs are gathered we will share the information.

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News Network
February 3,2023

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New Delhi, Feb 3: A Calicut-bound Air India Express flight from Abu Dhabi landed back at Abu Dhabi airport after flames were detected in one of the engines soon after take-off, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said on Friday.

Air India Express informed that the aircraft landed safely and all passengers are safe.

According to DGCA, 184 passengers were onboard when the flight took off.

"Soon after taking off and climbing to 1,000 feet, the pilot detected a flame in one of the engines and decided to go back to Abu Dhabi airport," Air India Express told ANI.

DGCA said that Air India Express B737-800 aircraft returned to the Abu Dhabi airport due to a mid-air flameout.

"Today an Air India Express B737-800 aircraft VT-AYC operating flight IX 348 (Abu Dhabi-Calicut) was involved in Airturnback due to the No. 1 engine flameout at 1,000 ft during the climb," DGCA said.

Earlier on January 23, an Air India Express flight from Trivandrum to Muscat landed back 45 minutes after taking off due to a technical glitch, officials said.

According to officials, the flight management system (FMS) developed a technical glitch.

"The flight took off from Trivandrum at 8.30 am and landed back at 9.17 am," they added.

In December 2022, a snake was found on a Dubai-bound Air India Express flight.

Air India Express Boeing B-737 flight from Calicut to Dubai took off as scheduled and after landing at Dubai airport, the staff reported a snake on board the aircraft.

The aviation regulatory body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had ordered a detailed probe regarding the incident, the aviation body said. 

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