The Centre has ordered a review of onerous penalties that airlines charge on cancellation of tickets, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.

“We believe cancellation charges are on the high side and onerous for passengers,” Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha said. “The Rs 3,000 fee is in many cases more than the price of the ticket itself. These cancellation charges need to be brought back into balance.”

The government plans to ask airlines to reduce the fee to reasonable amounts. Travel experts told The Times of India that high cancellation charges discourage people from booking tickets early to get cheaper fares.

According to rules framed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in August 2016, ticket cancellation charges must not exceed the basic fare and fuel surcharge in the ticket cost. While the cancellation rules on Jet Airways’ website redirect to the DGCA guidelines, SpiceJet and IndiGo charge Rs 3,000 as the cancellation fee on domestic flights, while GoAir charges Rs 2,950.

Protecting consumer rights

The government is also working on a “robust and balanced” document called the “passenger bill of rights”, to guide flyers on their rights and duties.

“India has seen a doubling of air travellers in the last three and a half years – a growth rate that has not been witnessed anywhere globally,” the newspaper quoted Sinha as saying. “Many are first-time flyers who need to be made aware of their rights and duties. For this, we are preparing the ‘passenger bill of rights’ by looking at best practices globally.”

Multiple airlines have courted controversy in the last few months in cases of assault and misbehaviour with or by passengers.