It is a free market, where airlines currently operate multiple flights out of different cities. This sort of open market is supposed to have a competitive effect on air fares, allowing an average person to fly, at cheaper rates.
However, air passengers from Pune currently face a very unique situation.
Our city is well connected with just two cities, namely Delhi and Bengaluru, to where, typically, multiple airlines operate multiple flights in a day. Therefore, fares are decided not only by demand, but also by competition.
But a key recent development (Go First suspending operations) has resulted in a situation where Pune is connected to major cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad by just one airline, resulting in a monopoly-like situation with no competition to give market-driven rates.
As a consequence, fares have risen on these major sectors and passengers now have no choice but to pay.
Moreover, this has resulted in a condition where several times, it ischeaper to travel to Mumbai airport (even after factoring in the travel expenses from Pune city to Mumbai airport) and fly from there since multiple options from different airlines are available from Mumbai airport at competitive fares.
Interestingly, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Lucknow seem to offer passengers some choice to fly out from Pune and these are the sectors where the main airline operator in the country has very few flights.
It is then a request to Pune airport authorities to initiate a dialogue with more airline operators such as Akasa Air, Air India, Air Asia, Vistara to mount new flights out of Pune on major city sectors such as Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, to name a few. It will prevent a monopoly-type operation and ensure fares are stable.
It’s hoped airport authorities and airlines are reading this to rectify this unique situation in Pune.
— The writer is deputy director, Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune