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Government cuts seating capacity in domestic flights to 50%, fares could go up

- Hindustan Times

The Union civil aviation ministry on Friday reduced the seating capacity of domestic flights from 80% to 50% of their normal capacity from June 1. Fares for domestic travel could also get costlier as the ministry also raised the lower limit on fares by 13% to 16 %.

“This decision has been taken in view of the sudden surge in the number of active Covid-19 cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and passenger load factor (occupancy rate)", the ministry's order issued late on Friday said.

The aviation ministry imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services resumed on May 25 last year following complete suspension of passenger air travel for two-months.

According to the order, the lower limit for flights under 40 minutes of duration will be increased from ₹2,300 to ₹2,600 -- an increase of 13%.

The official order said that the government has taken this decision keeping in mind the "prevailing situation of Covid-19" in the country.

Similarly, flights with duration between 40 minutes and 60 minutes will have a lower limit of ₹3,300 instead of ₹2,900 now, the order said.

For domestic flights of duration between 60-90 minutes, the lower limit will go up from ₹3,500 to ₹4,000. The lower limit will go up from ₹4,100 to ₹4,700 for flights of the duration of 90-120 minutes, from ₹5,300 to ₹6,100 for flights of 120-150 minutes, from ₹6,400 to ₹7,400 for flights of 150-180 minutes and from ₹7,600 to 8,700 for flights of 180-210 minutes.

When the government resumed scheduled domestic flights in India on May 25 last year after a two-month-long lockdown, the ministry had permitted the carriers to operate not more than 33% of their pre-COVID domestic services. The cap was gradually increased to 80% by December last year.

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