People, Travel

Airlines Told to Improve Service

Airlines Told to Improve ServiceAirlines Told to Improve Service

Airlines are not allowed to increase fares without improving their service, a lawmaker said at the weekend.

Earlier this month, airfares were deregulated on 170 domestic routes, prompting many to question the motive behind the move.

“Deregulating airfares before the fleet is renovated just doesn’t make sense,” said Hamed Qadermarzi, an MP from Kurdestan Province, according to travel news website Donyay-e- Safar.

“The services our airlines offer are abysmal and customer satisfaction is low. Flight delays have become a regular feature along with passenger complaints… but nothing has been done.”

Qadermarzi, who is a member of the Majlis Urban Development Commission, said as things stand, would-be travelers gain nothing and the deregulation could “lead to a decline in air travel,” which will hurt the domestic airlines’ already unimpressive finances.

This is while the proponents of the deregulation, namely the Civil Aviation Organization of Iran, claim that with deregulated fares passengers will have better and more options. They will be free to choose among flight times, ticket fares and additional services.

Fares for another 87 domestic routes have yet to be deregulated, but according to CAOI chief, Ali Abedzadeh, all airfares will be liberalized by the end of the current Iranian year (March 19, 2016) as part of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-16).

“Airfare deregulation does not necessarily mean an increase in ticket fares,” he was quoted as saying by the local media. The senior official did not elaborate.

Increases in airfares have become a norm over the years with little or no improvement in the services offered by the domestic airlines almost all of whom are in the red. Their finances are so pathetic that most, if not all, are even unable to pay for the jet fuel they buy from state-owned oil companies. News outlets have reported that unpaid bills for jet fuel bought by the private airlines have now reached more than $100 million.

Iran needs more than 400 new passenger planes to compensate for shortages due to sanctions over the past three decades. Of its 250 passenger planes, 100 are currently grounded because of lack of spare parts. The remaining 150 aging aircraft need to be renovated.