Thursday, Sep 18, 2003
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By Vinay Kumar
The Ministry recently asked the Indian Airlines to send a proposal for reversion of the scheme but no decision has been taken on it so far, Ministry sources said. The requirement of minimum stay of seven days at a destination would be done away with and, instead, a stay of two days would be allowed.
The revised conditions of travel of senior citizens on domestic flights of IA came into force on July 7, evoking protests from senior citizens who found the conditions too harsh and criticised the domestic carrier for being "insensitive" to their needs. Several senior citizens pointed out that they travelled by air only in emergencies and needed to return sometimes before seven days in order to be in touch with their doctors. Most of the time the situation did not permit them to purchase confirmed ticket at least seven days prior to their departure.
Under the revised conditions, Indian Airlines stipulated that round trip journey and minimum stay of seven days at a destination were mandatory, confirmed ticket should be purchased seven days in advance and re-routing was disallowed. Senior citizen concessions were available to Indian male residents of 65 years and above and women citizens who have completed the age of 63 years. However, the financial results of the revised scheme if IA was able to garner more revenue have not been considered before the Ministry asked for a proposal to revert to the original scheme.
At the time of revising the scheme for senior citizens, Indian Airlines had argued that the revision of rules became necessary as it was resulting in severe dilution of revenue and avoidable losses for the airline. It said the main aim of the concession was to facilitate the travel of those leading a retired life and finding travel by road and rail inconvenient.
However, it came to light that the facility was being availed of more by others than those for whom it was designed.
The airline, which incurs an annual loss of Rs. 40 crores on account of senior citizen discounts of 50 per cent on normal economy fares, said it needed to function on commercial principles as any other organisation. Further, such conditions have also been imposed by other domestic operators following IA's revision.
Sources said that students belonging to the north-eastern States would be able to travel by IA to Kolkata as the metropolitan city was the gateway to the NE States. Presently, students are allowed concession on air travel between their places of study and homes. Travel concessions to military personnel, Arjuna awardees and war widows have not been touched by the Airlines.
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