Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India is looking into the charges of cartelisation among the airlines in fixing airfares and the issue keeps cropping up due to the nature of the industry, its Chairman Ashok Chawla told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.
In May, a group of parliamentarians led by BJP leader Kirit Somiya, had met Mr. Chawla and lodged a compliant against the airlines on the pricing practices.
“Air fares are a cartel matter. One is ganging up and others are abuse of dominance. Whenever the prices go up suddenly and are abnormally high there is the feeling that the airlines are working in conjunction,” he said.
CCI have looked at the issue in the past three times and found there has been no evidence of cartelisation.
Currently, it is again probing whether there is cartelisation among carriers in fixing the price of air tickets on the basis of the complaint from Parliamentarians.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns over the predatory pricing practices of domestic airlines and the ministry is trying to address the issue.
Mr. Chawla said that due to the concentrated nature of the industry the complaints on the issue come up again and again. “We are investigating the issue once again.”
He also admitted that there has been anxiety among the industry regarding the change in norms, which seeks more information in M&A deals.
The CCI had recently changed some of the norms, including the one, which requires companies to file adequate information at the first stage itself so that it speeds up the investigation process. It also said that the regulator can now invalidate notice seeking approval if the information provided is incomplete or inappropriate. Mr. Chawla said there need not be apprehension on this and CCI aim is to speed up the approval processes and not invalidate the application.