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IndiGo, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir ground MPs demand for flight perks

The head of an Indian airline said MPs are also demanding discounted tickets, free meals, creation of special counters at airports and access to lounges.

Last Updated: Sep 27, 2016, 08.32 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Indian airlines have resisted demands of handing out perks to MPs, including a quota of seats on flights, air travel facilities and assistance at airports to board and deboard a plane.

Senior executives of IndiGo, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, who attended a meeting on Monday called by the Joint Committee on Salaries and Allowance of Members of Parliament at the behest the aviation ministry to discuss “issues” related to these perks, rejected all these demands. ET was the first to report on Friday that the aviation ministry has asked all Indian airlines to send a representative each to attend the meeting.

A senior executive of an airline said decisions on perks should be left to airlines. “We are private enterprises. We already pay taxes and should not be burdened with these additional costs,” he said.

The head of an Indian airline said MPs are also demanding discounted tickets, free meals, creation of special counters at airports and access to lounges. “Everyone is informally being told to agree,” he said.

IndiGo, Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir ground MPs demand for flight perks

On Monday, airlines rejected the three main demands of the MPs — to allocate a quota of seats on airlines, meet and assist services at the airports and an end to “the disparity between minimum maximum fare buckets on low-cost airlines”.

Aviation secretary RN Choubey told the MPs that the maximum fare bucket is for only 4-5% and the rest are average fares, said another airline executive familiar with what transpired at the meeting.

“The secretary also told them that fares this year have fallen by 18% since 2014,” he said.

One of the six MPs who attended the meeting said the price of air tickets should be fair. “If one has to travel to, say, Mumbai tomorrow, one will have to pay a few thousand more than what one will for a flight a few days later. This (surge pricing) should stop,” he said.

Other “suggestions made at the meeting” were about giving preference to MPs while allotting front row seats (which have more leg room), an end to the practice of travel agents charging fares higher than airline websites (to which Choubey said MPs should compare and book on airline websites) and providing them wheelchairs and carts to commute from the entrance of the airport terminal to the vehicle that takes them to the tarmac.

Airlines already provide assistance to MPs to board and deboard a plane as courtesy. Wheelchairs are provided to any passenger who demands them.

The panel is headed by BJP MP Yogi Adityanath and has nine other Lok Sabha MPs and three Rajya Sabha MPs as members. Earlier this year, the panel recommended doubling of MPs’ salaries and perks. MPs now get a salary, including allowances, of Rs 1.4 lakh a month, according to PRS Legislative Research, a body that tracks the functioning of parliament. The salary of MPs is tax free and comes with additional benefits like free petrol, free telephone calls and free housing. MPs, their companions, or spouses, also get free air tickets when they go on official trips.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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