Thursday, 26 May, 2022

Frequent Fare Hike

Air passengers feel the pinch

The price of jet fuel has soared by 117 per cent over the past 1.5 years, causing rapid hikes in airfares, intensifying concerns among the airlines and ultimately forcing passengers to pay more for air travel.

Air passengers have complained that the gradual hike in air ticket price has made them bound to carry the burden of additional fare.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) increased the price of jet fuel by Tk 13 per litre to Tk 100 on April 7.

Jet fuel prices started to climb in October 2020 when the price was Tk 46 per litre.

According to BPC, authorities hiked fuel prices 14 times in these 18 months, while diesel and kerosene prices rose only once at the consumer level.

In addition to that, fuel prices in the international market soared amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact is being felt in Bangladesh.

Many passengers have said that they are becoming the ultimate victims of jet fuel price hike as airlines have increased air ticket price.

“Not all air passengers travel through airways only for comfort. I need to travel different parts of the country on short notice. I chose airways to save time and hassle on the road. But now observing the increasing air ticket I am thinking to return to road way,” NGO worker Mubin bin Shams said.

Officials of local airlines have expressed their frustration over jet fuel price hikes, claiming that the price is increasing at a time when the local airlines are trying to make a comeback after the pandemic.

“I understand the price rose due to the war, but why has it been raised by Tk 54 in the last 18 months. Even when everything was locked down during the pandemic, fuel prices kept climbing,” US-Bangla Airlines spokesman Kamrul Islam said.

He also said different countries provided subsidies to the aviation sector to recover from the economic shock caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but in Bangladesh the government has increased fuel prices instead of offering subsidies.

“The aviation industry could now turn around and make up the losses suffered during the pandemic,” Kamrul, also general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla, said, adding that if the sector doesn’t get adequate support, they will fall far behind the foreign airlines.

According to data provided by various aviation companies, Dhaka-Jashore or Dhaka-Syedpur flights would cost Tk around 3,000 before the pandemic, but it is now impossible to buy a ticket under Tk 4,000 on these routes.

Novoair has also increased its fares - hiking the airfares on Dhaka to Chattoram, Sylhet, Syedpur and Cox’s Bazar route by Tk 500 each ticket and on Jashore and Barishal route by Tk 300 on each ticket.

Recalling a similar fuel price hike in 2008, adviser to Bangladesh Aviation Owners Association ATM Nazrul Islam said, “The domestic flight operations are having a difficult time. With the Eid-ul-Fitr in 15 days, they will struggle. The airlines usually operate more flights than usual to cope with such crisis, but it is the passengers who ultimately pay.”

BPC officials said unlike other fuel oils, jet fuel doesn’t get any subsidy. Therefore, the price fluctuation depends on the international market as the jet fuel is entirely imported.

Director of BPC (finance) Kazi Mohammad Mozammel Haque said they still have to adjust to the price hike in the global market. The government offers no subsidies for jet fuel. Yet the prices in Bangladesh are somewhat lower than markets in Kolkata and nearby areas.

As per the International Air Transport Association, jet fuel prices rose by 128.5 percent over the past year, and it climbed the least in the Asia and Oceania regions with 95 percent increase while North America saw the biggest spike with 157.8 percent increase.