Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exorbitant Airfare Conundrum: Is Andaman an Alien Territory Within India?

Port Wings Editorial - Issue-11

After the end of World War-II, there were rumours that the Japanese Government, which held the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for three years between 1942-45 and abruptly withdrew after Hiroshima bombings, had strongly demanded the then Indian government to hand over the islands to them to develop it as Japan’s overseas territory.

Though the then Indian government did not budge on the Japanese demand, the exorbitant airfares to Port Blair for the last few years, the capital city of the 572-islands chain in Bay of Bengal, force the people living in India and like to travel there to think Andaman is indeed Japan’s Overseas Territory.

The air tickets that were earlier available at a very nominal rate, sometimes even below Rs. 4000, now cost more than Rs. 10,000/ for one way between Port Blair-Chennai-Port Blair or Port Blair-Kolkata-Port Blair.

Sometimes tickets are available at unbelievable price of Rs. 18,500 to Rs 44,000-which is just too exorbitant for any class of passenger, especially the middle class islanders and tourists.      

According to Dr. Dinesh, the President of Rotary Club of Port Blair and who has taken up the matter of astronomically high airfare between Mainland- Port Blair sector with the Prime Minister of India, notes that stretcher patients referred to either Chennai or Kolkata for further specialized treatment at mainland hospitals are the worst sufferers as they have to pay about Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 90,000 or more for one way airfare.
According to frequent flyers, nowhere in any other part of the country the airfare is so high for a two- hour flight.

The hapless residents of remote Andaman &Nicobar Islands suffer a lot every year during the tourist season (October to March), summer vacations (April to June), festive seasons (Dusshera, Diwali and so on).

Locals in the Island feels that the airlines connecting Port Blair with Chennai and Kolkata should be asked to charge only a flat rate of Rs 4000, which should not exceed beyond that at any given time.

The remote Islands need to be treated at par with the north-eastern states where the airfares are quite reasonable and affordable,” the President of RCPB notes.
Frequent flyers feel that unmindful of the peoples’ anguish, the airline companies are continuing to fleece the passengers on this sector.

Though the A&N Administration is seized of the matter, their hands are totally tied up due to the Island’s Union Territory status.
Will there be a solution soon to the exorbitant airfare Conundrum?


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