Passengers will have to shell out more money for air travel from now as the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday increased the lower and upper limits on domestic airfares by 10 to 30 per cent. These new limits would remain "in force up to March 31, 2021, or until further orders", the ministry said its order on Thursday.
While announcing the resumption of scheduled domestic flights on May 21, 2020, the ministry had placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration. The first such band consists of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. The lower limit for the first band was increased on Thursday from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200. The upper limit in this band was set at Rs 7,800, which was Rs 6,000 earlier.
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 fresh lower and upper limits set by the ministry for these bands on Thursday were: Rs 2,800-Rs 9,800; Rs 3,300-Rs 11,700; Rs 3,900-Rs 13,000; Rs 5,000-Rs 16,900; Rs 6,100-Rs 20,400; Rs 7,200-Rs 24,200, respectively.
Till date, the lower and upper limits for these bands were: 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. Aviation regulator DGCA had said on May 21 last year 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.
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. This was gradually increased to 80 per cent. The ministry said on Thursday that the 80 per cent limit would remain in place till March-end.
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 Indian carriers in 2020 took cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave without pay and firing of employees in order to conserve cash.
Scheduled international passenger traffic continues to remain suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements formed with various countries.
with additional inputs from news agency PTI