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Govt extends curbs, domestic flight fare caps until Nov 24

PUBLISHED ON JUL 24, 2020 11:52 PM IST

New Delhi The ministry of civil aviation on Friday extended restrictions on limited domestic flight operations and caps on air fares till November 24.

Currently, the Centre has allowed domestic flight operations to function at 45% of their total capacity. “We will be extending our capacity of flight operations. At present, flight operations are at around 28%, we will extended the capacity beyond the 45 % limit soon,” a senior ministry official said.

The ministry had last month cleared an increase in capacity of flight operations to 45% from 33% allowed previously. It had capped domestic flights to a third of their approved summer schedule in an order passed on May 21.

Domestic flight operations were resumed from May 25, two months after their suspension in the wake of the nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19. Union aviation minister Hardeep Puri had earlier this month said that he hoped that the number of domestic flights will reach 55 – 60% of the pre-coronavirus level by Diwali this year.

Aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation in May had imposed fare limits for these bands -- domestic flights of less than 40-minute duration to have lower and upper limits of Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000. Fare limits for flights of 40-60 minutes are Rs 2,500 and Rs 7,500, for 60-90 minute flights, they are Rs 3,000 and Rs 9,000 and fare limits for 90-120 minute-flights are Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000. Flights of 120-150 minute duration have Rs 4,500 and Rs 13,000 and those of 150-180 minutes have Rs 5,500 and Rs 15,700 as the lower and upper limits respectively.

Airlines should adhere to the upper and lower limit of fares prescribed by the ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic, the ministry had said.

The aviation minister had 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 government’s decision to temporarily fix a cap on air fares following the resumption of domestic passenger flight services in a graded manner is impacting air travel demand as airlines are unable to offer tickets at lower prices to customers, aviation think tank Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said earlier this month.

CAPA said adopting such a mechanism takes away an airline’s flexibility to charge fares at a lower rate when demand is on the lower side. “The temporary fare caps by the regulator are impacting demand. The pricing restrictions mean that the airlines have less flexibility to offer lower fare to stimulate demand.”

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