Air fares will be capped for three months
Once airlines restore partial services from Monday, they will have to adhere to the pricing guidelines of the Civil Aviation Ministry, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday. The rates will be capped for three months. Airlines have suffered massive losses as operations were halted nearly two months ago to curtail the spread of coronavirus. The bookings start today. Here are more details.
The decision to restart services, albeit in a "calibrated manner", was pronounced by Puri in a tweet on Wednesday. This morning, Airports Authority of India (AAI), released standard operating procedure (SOP) detailing rules passengers have to follow before boarding, inside the plane, and on reaching the destination. The elementary ones — wearing masks and gloves, and downloading the Aarogya Setu app were naturally mentioned.
Since airlines have incurred massive losses in the last few weeks, the general emotion was that tickets would be over-priced. Negating these sentiments of potential fliers, Puri said airlines will have to abide by the lower and upper limits of fares. He said the government wants to make air travel affordable. Only one-third of the total flights will be operational initially.
Puri explained that flight durations will be divided into seven categories — 0-30 minutes, 30-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes, and 180-210 minutes. The maximum and minimum fare will depend on travel duration. A Delhi-Mumbai ticket will cost somewhere between Rs. 3,500 and Rs. 10,000, he hinted. Moreover, 40% of seats will have to be sold at lower prices.
Puri said the middle seat will not be left vacant, as opposed to what reports said earlier. "At the moment, the decision has been taken that the middle seat will not be left vacant," he said. The idea was floated to maintain social distancing. Airlines will not provide meals to passengers on the flight and the crew will be dressed in full protective gear.
The lockdown has adversely affected airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet, and Vistara. According to CRISIL, a global analytics company, India's aviation industry will incur a loss of Rs. 24,000-25,000 crore this fiscal. The body had predicted the numbers will swell if major routes like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Chennai, and Delhi-Kolkata remain shut. Incidentally, the largest number of COVID-19 infections have been reported from these bigger cities.