Centre allows one third domestic flight capacity; puts limit on airfare


File photo of an Air India aircraft.

File photo of an Air India aircraft.

About a third of operations will be allowed under strict norms when domestic flight services restart on Monday after a two-month hiatus and all the airlines will have to adhere to the upper and lower limits of fares prescribed by the government, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Thursday.

In a set of detailed guidelines, the ministry advised the vulnerable people like the elderly, pregnant women and passengers battling health issues to avoid air travel till the coronavirus pandemic abates. People residing in the containment zone will not be allowed to travel.

All passengers will have to provide their medical details through the Aarogya Setu app or by filling up a self-declaration form. They will have to go for web-check-in as physical check-in counters in airports will not operate.

The rules included no meals on board, mandatory temperature checks for all passengers and allowing only one check-in bag for each passenger. People who were tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel. All the passengers will have to wear masks while entering the airports and thereafter.

Passengers will have to report to airports two hours before flights are scheduled to depart and they will have to strictly follow social distancing rules.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that there will be Limits on airfares have been set in seven bands as per the flight durations and they would be in place till August 24.

The Minister said the first band, which would have its specific lower and upper limits of airfare, will consist of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration.

Second, third, fourth and fifth bands of upper limit would be of flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes and 120-150 minutes, he said.

The sixth and seventh bands would consist of flights with durations between 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes, he stated.

Aviation Secretary PS Kharola, who was also present at the press conference, said 40 per cent of the seats would have to be sold at the mid-point of the lower and upper airfare limits set for the flights.

The Minister said he can’t comment right now on when flight operations would be restored completely.

The minister added that private carriers will join the Vande Bharat mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic flight operations will resume in India from May 25. All commercial passenger flights were suspended in the country from March 25, when the Modi government imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.