New Delhi: With high festive season demand pushing up airfares, aviation regulator DGCA has been asked by Civil Aviation Ministry to examine if it could take some steps provide any relief to air travellers.

"I have asked DGCA to use its powers and look into the matter, although beyond a point, we cannot do anything," Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said replying to a question on hiking air fares by airlines ahead of the festival season.

Noting that there is a "flexible mechanism" that governs air fares, he said the regulator would examine the issue as it affected the travelling public.

The fares of almost all major airlines have risen by an average of ten per cent due to the festive season, though sources in the airline industry maintain that due to high passenger traffic, the low-fare buckets were getting filled up fast leaving only high fare options.

The fare monitoring committee of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, set up a year ago, was already analyzing the fare data on a daily basis, the sources said.

Asked to comment on planned shut down of low-cost carrier Kingfisher Red, Ravi refused to give a direct reply but said soaring prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was a matter of concern for entire aviation industry.

Expressing concern over rising jet fuel prices, Ravi said he would soon write to state governments to reduce sales tax on ATF, though he had made similar requests earlier too.

"ATF price is a major challenge facing the aviation industry. ATF is going up because of increase in crude prices.

"In India, sales tax on ATF is affecting the industry. I have already written to state governments to reduce the sales tax on it. I will write to them again," Ravi said.

Asked as to when the next meeting of the Group of Ministers on Air India will be convened, he said it will take place soon. Noting that Indian workers often face difficulties in Gulf countries as their contract conditions are changed by their foreign employer, Ravi said government has finalised a web-based attestation system of employment contracts for workers in the UAE.

"In order to overcome this problem, we are initiating with the UAE Ministry of Labour a web-based attestation system of employment contracts in the Indian missions at Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This procedure would help us enforce the contracts conditions," he said.

"We have directed the Indian missions in other countries of the region to establish similar process to attest the employment contracts," he said.

Ravi said government would soon transform the emigration mechanism and to bring the changes the Emigration Management Bill will be tabled in Parliament soon.

The proposed legislation will provide for greater transparency, better regulation and deterrent punishment to the offenders. He said with one year, the entire migration process would be made online.

"Within 52 weeks, we would be able to provide a common electronic platform for all the concerned in the process of migration. This system would link the e-passport system and even the Indian missions abroad to provide a seamless service of migration clearance to the Indian workers going abroad," he said.

He said in view of large number of people from Northeast migrating abroad, government has decided to open an office of protector of emigrant (PoE) in Guwahati. Two other such offices will come up in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The Minister said his Ministry is also pursuing a framework agreement called Human Resource Mobility Partnership with several developed countries to ensure seamless migration of Indian workers.

(Agencies)