Charging for check-in baggage could have adversely impacted demand

Charging for check-in baggage could have adversely impacted demand

The government has rightly rejected the proposal of airlines to charge for check-in baggage, as it could have adversely impacted demand for air travel.

Union Ministry of Civil Aviation recently rejected the demand of budget carriers to charge passengers for check-in baggage. The government said accepting such demand will put burden on the passengers. Speaking to media, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Dr. Mahesh Sharma said that low cost airlines had sought permission of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to allow them to charge passengers for their check-in baggage, but the Ministry declined to give its permission.

According to the concerned airlines, charging air-passengers for their check-in luggage will incentivize passengers to travel light, but the civil aviation ministry differed with the airlines. “We don’t want to burden passengers with such charges,” Sharma said. As per the proposal made by three Indian carriers, reportedly Spice- Jet, Indigo and AirAsia, passengers should pay for every kilogram of the checked luggage, and passengers having no check in luggage should be given incentive in the form of discounts on the air ticket. At present, passengers can carry up to 15 kg check-in luggage without paying any charge. If airlines’ demand of ‘zero baggage fare’ is accepted, airlines would charge for each kg of the checked in luggage.

Commenting on the government’s decision, Prithviraj Singh Chug, Director, Group Concorde said, “We fully support the government’s decision to reject some airline proposal to charge for check-in baggage, as air travel in India is likely to see an increased growth as more and more middle class Indians are expected to take to air travel, especially on the advanced purchases fares offered by the LCCs.” Chug further said, “No free baggage policy will help airlines plug their bleeding finance but would put pressure on industry growth since it could impact demand.”

Chug said that any move that could affect demand positively should be welcomed especially when the efforts are being made to revive the civil aviation industry.

Earlier, DGCA had allowed domestic carriers to unbundle their services and charge separately for facilities such as preferred seats, meals on board and use of lounges.

However, airlines feel that they should be allowed to charge for check in luggage to increase their revenues as most of the airlines are bleeding. Airlines also argue that ‘Zero baggage fare’ incentivizes and encourages traveling light, whereas in the existing fare system passengers travelling light also have to pay indirectly for those who travel with heavy luggage. Current system does not offer any incentives to travel light.

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