India aviation minister says to look into issue of rising airfares

FILE PHOTO: An IndiGo Airlines aircraft prepares to land as a man paddles his cycle rickshaw in Ahmedabad

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's new aviation minister said on Tuesday he wanted to make air travel more accessible by tackling the issue of rising fares, as the sector sees rapid growth and carriers place record new plane orders.

India is the world's fastest growing aviation market but domestic carriers have to contend with global supply chain disruptions that delay plane deliveries, contributing to higher air fares, executives say.

An Indian parliamentary panel proposed in February that the government should frame guidelines to control sudden surges in airfares, adding that "a route-specific fare ceiling can be examined".

The airlines say fares are driven by supply and demand.

"The prices of tickets have risen for whatever reason ... I really want to delve into this issue (and) how to make them a little more accessible, available for the people of this country," said Ram Mohan Naidu, who is aviation minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's newly installed government.

The minister also told ET Now news channel that he would hold a "special meeting" at the ministry to look into the issue, without elaborating.

India's two biggest airlines - IndiGo, which has a roughly 60% market share and Tata Group airlines, which accounts for about 30% - have hundreds of new planes on order, and the government is adding more airports to cater to growing demand.

Domestic air traffic in India grew 23% in 2023 to a record 153 million passengers, government data showed, with analysts expecting it to reach 300 million passengers by 2030.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Aditi Shah; Editing by Gareth Jones)