The Competition Commission of India is investigating allegations that airlines are using algorithms to fix ticket prices, PTI reported on Thursday.
The commission’s Chairperson Sudhir Mittal said the panel was looking into claims of similar pricing and simultaneous hike in ticket prices. “We are trying to work out the pricing pattern followed by airlines,” Mittal added. “Airlines have often stated that similarity in airfares as well as increase in prices is an outcome of demand based dynamic pricing by the softwares used by them.”
The commission is awaiting a report from the office of the director general, which investigates companies accused of violating competition norms. “We have asked the director general to look into the algorithms used by the airlines for determining the fares to ascertain whether the airlines have coordinated to fix prices or the algorithms function on their own to determine the prices,” said Mittal.
The investigation pertains to allegations of similar pricing by airlines during the 2016 Jat protests and the floods in Chennai the year before, he said. “Basically, one case being looked into is about the similarity in prices of different airlines for the same route that customer often comes across while booking tickets and the other is about surge pricing, for example, how is that during the Jat agitation all airlines on the same day decided to increase the prices,” Mittal added.
In July, some members of the Rajya Sabha had called for a cap on airfares.