High Flying Dispute: Delhi High Court Rejects Airline Fare Cap Proposal, Citing Auto-Rickshaw Rates

The Delhi High Court, on May 15, declined to issue directives for capping airfares nationwide, noting the “very, very competitive” nature of the airline industry and the significant losses incurred by its players. The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet P.S. Arora, emphasized that market forces should determine ticket pricing, highlighting the robust competitiveness within the industry.

The Court drew attention to the current scenario where auto-rickshaw fares often surpass airline fares, indicating the dynamic nature of pricing in different sectors.

The court addressed two petitions seeking regulation of flight ticket pricing and indicated that it would issue a comprehensive order at a later date. Highlighting the competitiveness of the industry, the bench remarked on the significant losses incurred by airline operators despite substantial investments in the sector.

Advising against excessive regulation, the bench emphasized the well-controlled nature of the industry, cautioning against unnecessary interference in successful sectors. It noted that isolated incidents do not warrant judicial intervention through public interest litigations (PILs) to impose new regulations. The PILs were filed by advocate Amit Sahni and consumer rights activist Bejon Misra, represented by lawyer Shashank Deo Sudhi.

The petitioners urged the court to cap airfares nationwide to prevent airlines from unfairly charging customers. However, the counsel representing the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) opposed the plea, citing the variability of airfares based on routes and plane availability.

They highlighted instances where flights operate with few passengers, leading to cost considerations for airlines.

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