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Monday, December 5, 2022

Air travel becomes expensive: Govt raises limits on domestic airfares by 10-30 per cent

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Passengers will need to distribute extra money for aviation from now because 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 last year, the ministry had placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the idea of flight duration.

The first such band consists of flights that are of but 40 minutes duration. The lower limit for the primary band was increased on Thursday from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200. The upper limit during 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 every airline would sell a minimum of 40 per cent of its tickets on a flight at prices but 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 bounds on airfares, the govt had asked the airlines to work less 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 situ till March-end.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted thanks to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in sight of the coronavirus pandemic.

All Indian carriers last year took cost-cutting measures like pay cuts, leave without pay and firing of employees so as to conserve cash.

Scheduled international passenger traffic continues to stay suspended in India since March 23, 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights are operating since July 2020 under bubble arrangements formed with various countries.