Air Travel Latest News: In much relief for the airline industry, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said that the price cap on domestic flights will be done away with as soon as flight services attain their pre-COVID levels. Domestic flights in India have been reopened since May 25 last year with necessary health protocols amid the coronavirus restrictions. However, regular international flights are still shut apart from those operating in air bubbles under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission. Also Read - Mumbai Airport T1 to Resume Domestic Flights on Wednesday; 5 Airlines to Operate on Day 1
In reply to questions asked in the Rajya Sabha, Puri said the floor and the ceiling price on airfares was an ‘extraordinary measure” which was necessitated by an “extraordinary situation”. It was designed to ensure that airlines, in a situation of limited availability, did not charge exorbitant price, he said. Also Read - Flight Services From Ayodhya International Airport Expected to Start Early Next Year
Due to the outbreak of COVID 19, scheduled domestic operations were suspended from March 25, 2020, for two months and then resumed in May end with capping the lower and upper limit of airfare to ensure airlines do not overcharge or undercharge passengers. Also Read - Domestic Flights: IndiGo Starts Flight Services From Bareilly to Mumbai, Bengaluru From April 29
The order for capping of airfare is valid up to March 31, 2021, while domestic air travel has been opened up to 80 per cent of the Summer Schedule 2020.
“Our effort…is always to open up a little ahead of the actual and potential traffic,” the civil aviation minister said.
“We are now confronted with an interesting situation. On the one hand, some of the carriers want us to open full capacity, 100 per cent, whereas others would like to go slow,” he said and added the decision to raise beyond 80 per cent capacity will depend on the behaviour of the virus and “our sense” of comfort that air travel has all the SOPs.
He also said the government does not determine the prices sought by the air carrier as it is a deregulated sector.