Domestic airlines will be able to operate at 100 per cent of their pre-Covid capacity from October 18. The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday lifted restrictions on capacity on domestic flights keeping in mind the rise in demand for air travel ahead of the festive seasons and declining Covid-19 cases.
The Government’s move will enable airlines to operate more flights and will push up passenger loads as the festive season rush begins across India. The fresh circular marks the fourth consecutive upward revision. The Ministry had capped domestic airline capacity since May 2020. Currently, the cap on the capacity for domestic flights is at 85 per cent since September 18.
“After review of the current status of Scheduled Domestic Operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel,” the Ministry has been decided to “restore the scheduled domestic all operations with effect from 18-10-2021 without any capacity restriction,” the order stated. According to the Aviation Ministry, the decision to ease the norms on flight capacity was taken after reviewing the current air travel.
“The airlines/airport operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of Covid are strictly adhered to and Covid appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced by them during the travel,” it said.
This means that from the winter schedule which comes into effect from the end of next month, airlines can have a full complement of domestic flights. Airlines will be allowed to not just return to pre-pandemic levels but go beyond that as well depending on demand. However, apart from strictly following Covid protocols, a few other restrictions will continue to be applicable on domestic flights. These include the maximum and minimum fare caps and no selling of food and snacks in less than
The carriers were operating 72.5 per cent of their pre-Covid domestic flights since August 12. Between July 5 and August 12, the cap stood at 65 per cent, whereas between June 1 and July 5, the cap was
at 50 per cent.
When the Government resumed the scheduled domestic flights on May 25 last year after a two-month break, the Ministry had allowed the carriers to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-Covid domestic services. The cap was gradually increased to 80 per cent by December 2020. The 80 per cent cap remained in place till June 1 this year.
On October 9, the Indian carriers operated 2,340 domestic flights, which is 71.5 per cent of their total pre-Covid capacity.
After declining in Covid cases and easing of economy, airports across the country have witnessed a massive rush. On Friday, a number of flyers missed their flights due to inadequate measures at the Mumbai airport terminal which couldn’t handle the passenger crowding brought on by the weekend and festive season.
Several videos went viral showing long queues at Terminal 2 at CISF security gates with passengers jostling and struggling to reach their boarding gates on time. Kolkata and Chennai airports also witnessed chaos during the weekend due to the huge rush.
According to the reports, Airlines witnessed around 61,100 departures in September as compared to 39,628 departures in the same month of 2020. The number of departures in the month gone by higher by around 6 per cent, as Covid-19 infections demonstrated a downward trajectory.