Delhi High Court Declines to Cap Air Fares Amidst Aviation Industry’s Competitive Market

Delhi High Court

New Delhi: In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has declined to impose a cap on airfares, citing the highly competitive nature of the aviation industry and the substantial losses it is currently facing. The bench, led by Chief Justice Manmohan Singh and Justice Manmeet PS Arora, emphasized the role of market forces in determining ticket prices and noted the robust performance of the sector despite the financial challenges.

The court’s decision came in response to two public interest litigations (PILs) that sought judicial intervention in the regulation of flight ticket pricing. The petitioners, advocate Amit Sahni, and consumer rights activist Bejon Mishra, represented by advocate Shashank Dev Sudhi, argued for a cap on airfares to prevent airlines from ‘arbitrarily looting’ customers. However, the High Court bench observed that the aviation industry is already well-regulated and that further regulatory measures were unnecessary.

Highlighting the investment influx into the aviation sector, the bench remarked on the need to maintain a less regulated environment to foster continued growth and competition. The court also pointed out that even auto-rickshaw fares are often higher than those of airlines, illustrating the competitive pricing present in the industry.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), represented by counsel opposing the PILs, contributed to the court’s understanding by explaining that airfare variability is influenced by factors such as aircraft availability and route demand, with flights sometimes operating with minimal passenger numbers.

The High Court has announced that it will issue a detailed order on the matter, reinforcing its stance that isolated incidents do not warrant a comprehensive overhaul of the existing regulatory framework. This decision underscores the court’s trust in market dynamics to balance consumer interests with the financial realities of airline operators.

Delhi High Court