Domestic airfare cap to remain in place till Nov 24: Aviation Ministry


File photo of an Air India aircraft.

File photo of an Air India aircraft.

The upper and lower limits on domestic airfares have been extended till November 24, the Aviation Ministry said on Friday.

The ministry had on May 21 placed these limits through seven bands, classified on the basis of flight duration, till August 24.

“As per the prevailing situation of COVID-19, the central government directs that the order shall remain in force till 2359 hrs on 24th November, 2020, or until further orders,” the Aviation Ministry said.

Domestic passenger services resumed on May 25 after nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Along with the limits on airfares, the government had asked the airlines to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. On June 26, the cap was increased to 45 per cent.

In another order, the Aviation on Friday Ministry said the 45 per cent cap would be in place till November 24 or “until further orders”.

Hours after Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced on May 21 that there would be limits on airfares till August 24, aviation regulator DGCA had issued an order with more details.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had said there would be seven bands of ticket pricing with lower and upper fare limits based on flight duration.

The first such band consists of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. The lower and the upper fare limits for the first band is Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000, respectively.

The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes.

The lower and upper limits for these bands are: Rs 2,500-Rs 7,500; Rs 3,000-Rs 9,000; Rs 3,500-Rs 10,000; Rs 4,500-Rs 13,000; Rs 5,500-Rs 15,700 and Rs 6,500-Rs 18,600, respectively, the DGCA said.

The regulator had made it clear that each airline would sell at least 40 per cent of its tickets on a flight at prices less than the midpoint between the lower limit and upper limit.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

All airlines in India have taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave without pay and firings of employees in order to conserve cash.

Occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights has been around just 50-60 per cent since May 25.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23.