NEW DELHI: The government could soon allow airlines to operate up to 75% of pre-Covid level of domestic flights and not keep this capacity capped at 60% till February 24, 2021. “Ministry of civil aviation is monitoring the traffic everyday, and it is expected that the traffic would further pick up because of the festival season and as the passenger traffic increases, the upper cap would be revised to 70-75% of normal capacity in coming days,” the ministry said in a statement issued Friday.
While aviation minister H S Puri had last month hinted at increasing allowed domestic capacity deployment to be hiked to 75% as air travel within the country is gradually reviving, the ministry later decided the 60% cap along with domestic fare bands will remain in force upto February 24, 2021 — a three-month extension from the earlier deadline of November 24.
This decision did not go down well with private airlines who feel the upper fare cap is hurting them financially and also they want the market forces to determine how many flights should operate. Accordingly, the ministry has on Friday said it could enhance the 60% cap on domestic flights to 75% in coming days.
“The fare bands (effective from May 25) within which the airlines have to operate have been extended up to February 24, 2021… daily passenger traffic has reached 2.05 lakh on November 1, 2020. When domestic aviation opened in May 2020, the airlines were enabled to fly up to 33% of the normal capacity (as per summer schedule, 2020). At that time, the average daily traffic was about 30,000. This cap was enhanced to 45% from June 26. This cap was further revised to 60% from September 2… it is expected traffic would further pick up because of festival season and as the passenger traffic increases, the upper cap would be revised to 70-75% of normal capacity in the coming days,” the aviation ministry said in a statement on Thursday.