The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday announced a cap on domestic flight fares and issued seven bands of ticket pricing with lower and upper fare limits. The first such band will consist of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. The lower and the upper fare limits for the first band is Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000, respectively.
The subsequent bands would be 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 lower and upper limits for these bands are: 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, the DGCA said.
After a two-month hiatus, one-third of the scheduled domestic flights would be flying from May 25 after the airlines adhere to the government-prescribed limits on airfares categorised in seven bands based on flight duration.
Unveiling a set of detailed pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight guidelines on Thursday, the civil aviation ministry advised people vulnerable like the elderly, pregnant women and passengers battling health issues to avoid air travel till the coronavirus pandemic abates.
All passengers will have to provide their medical details through the Aarogya Setu app or by filling up a self-declaration form, while those residing in containment zones will not be allowed to travel, the ministry added.
Noting that all stakeholders such as airlines, airports have cooperated, Puri said, "Operations will start on 1/3 of the approved Summer schedule for domestic routes in a calibrated manner from May 25 and will be scaled up gradually. After domestic travel has been eased, we will address the issue of international travel depending on the evolving situation."
The minister said social distancing norms will not be implemented even if middle seats are kept vacant on flights. "Therefore, we have decided not to keep middle seats vacant," he said.
The routes in the seven sectors are:
India was one of the first countries to impose stringent travel restrictions, including banning all international passenger flights on March 25 as the country was put under lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. The minister also asserted that the lockdown has been effective and that India's coronavirus-related fatality figures are one of the lowest in the world.
As per the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs), all passengers will have to do web check-in as physical check-in counters at airports will not be functional. The rules include no meals onboard, 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. The government's decision to allow domestic air travel comes days after the government relaxed norms allowing economic activities to resume in a bid to revive the economy that has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown.
Airports have been advised to earmark areas for isolation as well as to carry out COVID-19 testing of suspected passengers. According to the guidelines, the airports will have to ensure easy availability of hand sanitisers at all entry points and at various touchpoints.
The ministry also allowed resumption of services by all food and beverages (F&B) outlets on the condition that they must follow all COVID-19 precautions. "Take-away, digital payments, self-ordering booths at F&B and retail outlets to be encouraged to prevent crowding of people," it said.