Airlines might again charge for water, preferred seats

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 26, 2012 04:13 hrs

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) could once again allow domestic airlines to charge passengers for on-board services like preferential seats and drinking water. All over the world, airlines charge extra fee from passengers for meals, luggage and choice of seats as a means to shore up revenues. However, last year, DGCA restricted domestic airlines from charging passengers extra for seat selection and instructed them to provide free drinking water.

DGCA Arun Mishra told mediapersons in Mumbai on Tuesday he was reconsidering the decision. “Airlines have given an application on the issue and we will consider it. We will have an open mind,” he said.

Airlines charge Rs 50-400 for preferred seats. Front row seats with more leg room are usually priced higher. However, following passenger complaints, Mishra’s predecessor, E K Bharat Bhushan, directed airlines not to charge for preferential seats and water. Domestic airlines objected, saying the practice to charge passengers for on-board services was followed by almost all airlines around the world. But till now, DGCA has stood its ground.

Globally, airlines made $32.5 billion from ancillary revenues in 2011, with those in America accounting for the highest share. For some, the share of ancillary revenue is 18-20 per cent of the total revenue and for others, it is a modest two to five per cent. Recently, Jet Airways Chief Executive Officer Nikos Kardassis said the airline was looking to increase its ancillary revenue by $200-300 million (Rs 1,100-1,650 crore) from the current $170 million (Rs 935 crore) last year. Such revenue typically includes on-board sales, advertising, fees on baggage, etc.

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