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Indian Airlines fares up 15%, A-I to follow

New Delhi, March 20: The government today permitted state-run Indian Airlines to raise air fares by 15 per cent across the board from March 26. Civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain took the decision after the airline made a presentation complaining that prices of aviation fuel had skyrocketed over the past few months.

Aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices in India have increased by over Rs 5000 a kilolitre over the last three months and is now quoted at about Rs 25,200 a kilolitre. Global ATF prices have risen by 44 per cent.

Indian Airlines officials said the new fares, including those of the advance purchase scheme, would become effective from March 26. A decision on raising the fares of Air-India will be taken later.

The overall ATF bill of Indian Airlines is expected to be around Rs 1,440 crore during fiscal 2003-04. The airlines said that in addition there had been increase in the cost of other vital operational inputs, including insurance.

Following the price revision, passengers travelling in business-class from Delhi to Calcutta will have to pay Rs 12,675 as against Rs 11,080 from March 26. The rise for the economy class in this sector will be Rs 8,570 as against Rs 7,515.

The rise in other sectors are: Chennai-Mumbai business-class Rs 8,800 as against Rs 7,715, economy-class Rs 6,080 as against Rs 5,350; Bangalore-Delhi business-class Rs 16,240 as against Rs 14,815, economy-class Rs 10,895 as against Rs 9,535 and Hyderabad-Mumbai business-class Rs 7,350 as against Rs 6,455 and economy-class Rs 5,115 as against Rs 4,510.

The other two private airlines — Jet Airways and Air Sahara — also plan to follow suit.

Hussein said Air-India’s demand for a 10 per cent rise in fares was being studied along with a demand by the international airlines that they be permitted to charge a $ 2 fuel surcharge.

Meanwhile, to avoid panic, the civil aviation ministry has not yet formally ordered evacuation of Indian expatriates working in Kuwait and northern Saudi Arabian cities, near the border with Iraq. However, this order is likely to come through any time now.

Additional flights are already being flown to meet the rush among Indians in that region who want to be flown back home and safety. Indian Airlines was the first off the block, diverting a Muscat flight to Kuwait to pick up an extra 100 passengers yesterday. Air-India also operated four extra flights to bring Indians back home. Tonight, another additional Indian Airlines’ 145-seater Airbus 320 will fly to Kuwait to pick up plane load of returnees.

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