Centre extends cap on domestic airfare till February 24
The lower and upper limits on fares for domestic air travel will remain in place for another three months, till February 24, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday. It was on May 21, that the Civil Aviation Ministry put limits through seven bands, based on the flight duration. It was supposed to remain till August 24 but was extended till November 24.
Puri optimistic the operations will reach pre-COVID-19 levels soon
At a press conference, Puri revealed that the next decision about cap on airfares will depend on domestic flights' operations reaching the pre-coronavirus numbers. "It is my expectation that by the time we reach Diwali, and between Diwali and the end of the year, we should be looking at figures (of operations under domestic civil aviation) which resemble pre-COVID-19 levels," Puri said.
Indian government levied caps to help both airlines, passengers
Notably, in an unprecedented move, the Indian government had decided to cap airfares after domestic air travel resumed in May. In March, a complete lockdown, imposed to check coronavirus spread, rendered the domestic travel industry toothless. At the time, Puri had explained the upper limit was aimed at avoiding a spike in prices, while the lower limit would ensure airlines don't suffer financially.
Cap on prices depends on the duration of flights
The first band pertains to flights having a duration of 40 minutes or less. The lower limit for such flights is Rs. 2,000 and the upper limit is Rs. 6,000. For the flights having a duration of 40-60 minutes, the limit is Rs. 2,500-7,500; for 60-90 minutes-long flight it is Rs. 3,000-9,000; and for 90-120 minutes long flight it is Rs. 3,500-10,000.
For flights longer than three hours, Rs. 6,500 is lower-limit
Moreover, for flights having a duration of 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes, and 180-210 minutes, the price window was set as Rs. 4,500-13,000; Rs. 5,500-15,700, and Rs. 6,500-18,600, respectively.
On October 2, domestic air travel set a "new record"
Of late, Puri has exuded confidence in his prediction related to flight operations reaching the pre-coronavirus numbers soon. On October 3, he tweeted numbers from a day ago, which revealed that 1,76,601 passengers were handled and 1,536 flights were operated. Saying it was a record high, he added, "We should touch pre-COVID-19 figures between Diwali and New Year." He hinted at the same yesterday.
Will have no hesitation in removing fare limits: Puri
"If we find we are reaching pre-COVID-19 levels, I would absolutely have no hesitation if my colleagues (aviation ministry officials) want us to not utilize the price band for the full three months period," Puri said yesterday.