Domestic airlines to operate at 50% capacity through July

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The Ministry of Civil Aviation instructed domestic airlines to operate at 50% of their pre-COVID capacity for the months of June and July. This is the first time the Government has issued an order cutting down the airline capacity since domestic flight operations resumed (with 33% capacity) back in May 2020. The initial 33% cap on capacity was gradually increased in stages and the airlines were allowed to operate at 80% of their capacity until the recent order came into force yesterday.

This directive comes in light of the plummeting passenger traffic as well as passenger occupancy rate on planes against the backdrop of the raging second wave of the COVID-19 in India. For instance, the average daily passenger traffic at the Mumbai airport in May was 68% less than what it was in January.

“This decision has been taken in view of a sudden surge in the number of active Covid-19 cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and passenger load factor,” the order from the Ministry of Civil Aviation stated.

Apart from reducing the cap on airline capacity, the Ministry of Civil Aviation also raised the lower limit on domestic airfare by 13 to 16 percent, which means domestic flights are going to get a bit pricey. Earlier in February 2021, the Ministry had increased both the lower and upper cap on domestic airfare by 10 percent to 30 percent. This time, the upper limit remained unchanged though.

The domestic flights with flight time less than 40 minutes will now cost a minimum of ₹2,600 (300 rupees more). Similarly, the airfare of flights with a duration between 40-60 minutes starts from ₹3,300. While 60-90 minute flights are charged at ₹4,000, 90-120 minute flights have ₹4,700 as the minimum price. It costs you a minimum of ₹6,100 to board a domestic flight with a duration of 120-150 minutes and you have to shell out at least ₹7,400 and ₹8,700 for a journey lasting 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes respectively. Apparently, increased fuel prices and decreased passenger occupancy on flights are the two main factors that prompted the Government to raise the lower limit on domestic airfare.

Some of the popular airlines operating on domestic routes in India include IndiGo, Air India Express, SpiceJet, Vistara, AirAsia, Air India, and GoAir. Most of these airlines are offering flexible rescheduling and cancellation policies for their customers during these uncertain times.

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