New Delhi: As Haryana is convulsed by the Jat community's agitation for job quota, which has led to obstruction of the Delhi-Chandigarh highway, private airlines have hiked their fares 15-20 times.
Since Saturday, the airlines were charging anywhere between Rs.25,000 and Rs.55,000 for the one-hour flight between Delhi and Chandigarh, as against the fare of Rs.2,500-Rs.3,000 on normal days.
"Indeed, the air fare for travelling between Delhi and Chandigarh has soared to almost 15-20 times the actual rates. But, the demand is no less as there are only four airlines providing the service," said Amit Singh, assistant team leader of Flight Shop, a travel agency, here.
He named Air India, Jet Airways, Spice Jet and Indigo as those four airlines which service Chandigarh.
Singh said there is no cap on fares, allowing the airlines to go in for multifold hikes in such crisis situations, unlike in normal times when the effort is to keep charges low to attract more and more passengers.
A statement from the aviation ministry said two extra flights were added by Air India between Chandigarh and Delhi. One extra flight by Indigo, three by Spice Jet, and one by Jet Airways will be added to ease the rush for air travel on this route.
Jitendra Guleria, director of Shagul Travels, said: "Even if the fares are high, people are buying the tickets at the available cost as there is no other option."
Noting that there has been 70 percent rise in demand for the Delhi-Chandigarh air tickets, he told IANS: "There are a lot of people who have to catch their international flights from Delhi, because of which they have to be in the national capital at any cost."
Guleria said air fares between Delhi and Chandigarh will continue to rise until the aviation ministry facilitates more flights.
The Jat community's agitation in Haryana has led to obstruction of railway tracks and arterial roads. The agitators have blocked the national highway between Delhi and Chandigarh at Jhajjar, Panipat and Sonipat. Trains and buses to and from Delhi and other places have been cancelled.
Piyush Rana of Sunshine Air and Train Ticketers, another travel agency here, blamed the sky-rocketing air fares on a lack of regulation.
"The private companies operate according to their own will and market situations. Similar situation was witnessed during the Chennai floods and Nepal earthquake when the price of air travel between Chennai and other cities had soared 20-30 times," Rana told IANS.