The civil aviation ministry today extended the restrictions on domestic flights till November 24 or until further notice in the view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cap on airfares will remain in effect till the same period.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the aviation ministry implemented a cap on domestic airfare in May. India started operating domestic flights after a gap of two months in the last week of May. The domestic flights in India have a cap on fares with both an upper and lower limit.
While the upper price limit is aimed at preventing any sharp rise in fares due to pent-up demand, the lower limit will help ensure that the financial viability of airlines does not suffer amid high costs, Puri earlier said.
Flights between cities that are under 40 minutes have been classified under section one, while those under 40-60 minutes are under section two. Section three consists of destinations 60-90 minutes apart by flight, section four comprises cities 90-120 minutes apart, section five consists of cities 120-150 minutes apart. Destinations between 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes have been classified under sections 6 and 7, respectively.
The base minimum airfare of domestic flights ranges from ₹2,000 to ₹6,500 and the maximum range from ₹6,000 to ₹18,600. Airlines have to make available 40% of total seats in an aircraft at less than the mid-point price between the highest and lowest fares, aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola earlier said.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier said the move will mean that the lowest fare between Delhi and Mumbai, the busiest route in the country, will be capped at ₹3,500 and ₹10,000 at the higher end.
The central government has currently allowed domestic airlines to operate with 45% capacity. This decision comes a month after the Centre allowed re-commencement of limited domestic flight operations of about one-third of capacity.
Puri earlier said domestic flights in India may touch 55-60% of pre-Covid operations by mid-November, which is around the same time as Diwali. The international flight services have been halted in the country since March 24. The central government recently allowed a few international flights, primarily to the US, France, and Germany under ‘air bubbles’.
(With inputs from livemint)