New Delhi: There is a need for regulating "predatory" air fares instead of having a total pricing control, said Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Thursday.
He asserted, however, that a final decision on the issue can be taken only after wider discussions.
Sharma's comments come against the backdrop of many carriers resorting to steep discount on tickets to stimulate demand in the face of stiff competition.
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation said the situation is different in each country when it comes to pricing of air fares.
"We understand that the predatory price (of air fares) at the lower end or higher end should have some regulation. This is my individual opinion but this is subject to discussion and a Cabinet decision has to be taken on this issue," Sharma told reporters in New Delhi.
When asked whether any initial discussion on the issue has started, Sharma replied in the affirmative.
"In principle, I feel there should be some regulation on the prices at both ends. Of course we will not totally regulate prices but some regulation has to be there," he said.
Sharma said the matter needs to be discussed with stakeholders and others before a decision is arrived at.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a function related to GMR Aviation Academy.
Last month, Sharma had told the Rajya Sabha that air fares are not fixed by the government and are determined by the airlines "based on interplay of market forces".
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has a tariff monitoring unit in place that monitors air fares on certain routes selected on random basis to ensure carriers do not charge outside the range declared by them.
On a query related to charges being levied at the Delhi international airport, Sharma said: "We understand that airport charges are slightly on the higher end in our country. We will try to address these issues within the framework of our agreements and other situations."
Recently, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) proposed a 78.4 per cent reduction in airport charges at the Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Emphasising the need for working towards a "win-win situation", Sharma said measures would be taken at the right time in the wider interest of the industry by taking into account future potential of revenue generation and employment generation.
"At present, I cannot comment on whether the charges will be reduced or not reduced. We will like to address the issue as it has been brought to our knowledge," the minister said.