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

News Network
August 24, 2022

indiagulf.jpg

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.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
March 15,2023

kotian.jpg

Mangaluru, Mar 15: In an embarrassment to Hindutva chauvinists of coastal belt of Karnataka, a BJP MLA from Dakshina Kannada has taken exception to his own party’s stand on Muslims and Christians. 

Umanath Kotian, who represents Moodabidri constituency in Karnataka legislative assembly, while campaigning for upcoming elections at Kinnigoli near Mangaluru last week, claimed that he doesn’t agree with BJP leaders’ stand on Muslims and Christians. 

“What BJP people say is that Muslims and Christians do not vote for us, so why should we do their work? I am a straight talker. Members of our party have some arrogance and ask why we should do their (minorities) work as they do not vote for us. I am working in contrast to these views,” he told a small gathering.

Kotian said that he had worked for the development of mosques too during his tenure as MLA. “In the last five years, were there any communal riots or provocative speeches made in my constituency?” he can be heard saying in a video that went viral in parts of coastal Karnataka.

The speech clip has sparked a debate among netizens. Meanwhile, a hardline Hindtuva activists have launched a ‘campaign’ against the Moodabidri MLA and urged the BJP not to field him again. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
March 20,2023

saudiking.jpg

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has favourably received an invitation from Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit the kingdom following the reconciliation deal between the two countries, an Iranian official has said.

“In a letter to President Raisi … the King of Saudi Arabia welcomed the deal between the two brotherly countries [and] invited him to Riyadh,” tweeted Mohammad Jamshidi, the Iranian president’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, adding to this Sunday message that “Raisi welcomed the invitation”.

The two regional heavyweights announced on March 10 a Chinese-brokered deal to restore ties seven years after they were severed.

Riyadh cut relations after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions in 2016 following the Saudi execution of Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr – just one in a series of flashpoints between the two long-standing regional rivals.

The deal is expected to see Shia-majority Iran and mainly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia reopen their embassies and missions within two months and implement security and economic cooperation deals signed more than 20 years ago.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told reporters on Sunday that the two countries had agreed to hold a meeting between their top diplomats.

He added that three locations for the talks had been suggested, without specifying where.

Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem, reporting from Tehran, said that Amir-Abdollahian stressed “that both countries are exchanging technical teams to inspect the embassies in Tehran and Riyadh and see whether they’re ready for both missions to be deployed there”.

“The Iranians suggested, according to Amir-Abdollahian, three locations for the meeting. The exchange took place now through the Swiss embassy, and not through the Chinese. This could indicate that there are several channels between the Iranians and Saudis right now,” Hashem said.

The detente between Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Iran, strongly at odds with Western governments over its nuclear activities, has the potential to reshape relations across a region characterised by turbulence for decades.

Iran and Saudi Arabia support rival sides in several conflict zones – including Yemen, where the Houthi rebels are aligned with Tehran and where a military coalition supporting the government is led by Riyadh.

The two sides also vie for influence in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

A number of Gulf countries followed Riyadh’s action in 2016 and scaled back ties with Tehran, though the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait recently restored ties.

Amir-Abdollahian said Iran also hoped steps would be made to normalise its ties with Bahrain, a close Saudi ally that followed Riyadh in severing diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016.

In the past, Bahrain accused Iran of having trained and backed a Shia-led uprising in the Sunni-ruled kingdom in order to topple the Manama government. Tehran denies this.

“An agreement was reached two months ago for Iranian and Bahraini technical delegations to visit the embassies of the two countries. We hope that some obstacles between Iran and Bahrain will be removed and we will take basic steps to reopen the embassies,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

There was no immediate comment from Manama.

Bahrain, together with other Gulf Arab states, welcomed the agreement between Riyadh and Tehran to restore relations.

In September, Iran welcomed an Emirati ambassador after a six-year absence, and a month earlier it said Kuwait had sent its first ambassador to Tehran since 2016.

Iran’s top security official Ali Shamkhani also held talks with United Arab Emires President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday in yet another sign of the shifting relations in the region. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
March 18,2023

gold.jpg

Mangaluru, Mar 18: A male passenger who had arrived by an international flight was caught smuggling gold by concealing it in the diaper of his 21-month old daughter at the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) in a recent incident, a customs release here said on Saturday.

The gold, in the form of paste, was kept in pouches inside the diaper. However, it was detected by officials during checking.

In another incident, a male passenger had hidden the gold in paste form and tied it across his waist like a belt. Another person hid gold in paste form in his rectum.

In all, customs officials at the MIA have seized 1,606 gm of gold worth Rs 90.67 lakh from March 1 to 15 this year, the release said. All the three passengers have been arrested and further investigations are on.

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.