- Domestic carriers can now fly without capacity constraints
- The new order will come into effect on Monday, October 18
- Airlines must adhere to strict restrictions in order to prevent the spread of Covid
The Civil Aviation Ministry said on Tuesday that domestic carriers can again fly passenger flights with no capacity limits. The new order will take effect on Monday, October 18.
However, the ministry stated that airlines and airport operators must “ensure rules to control the spread of COVID-19 are carefully followed and Covid-appropriate behaviour is severely enforced.”
The ministry stated that capacity limitations, which refer to the number of flights each airline may operate, had been lifted following an assessment of air travel demand.
Airlines operated 2,340 flights on October 9, accounting for 71.5 percent of their total pre-COVID capacity.
ICRA, a credit ratings firm, said earlier this month that domestic air passenger traffic grew by two to three percent between August and September, rising from 67 lakh to 69 lakh.
The government improved capacity limitations from 72.5 percent to 85 percent in September.
Following a two-month suspension, the government restarted domestic aviation operations in May of last year.
Airlines were initially permitted to operate up to 33% of all pre-Covid routes.
By December of last year, the cap had been gradually raised to 80%.
Occupancy rates, on the other hand, were cut to 50% in June of this year when the country was hit by a second wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths.
According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, the decision was made “in light of the rapid increase in the number of active COVID-19 cases… reduction in passenger traffic and passenger load…”
As caseloads stabilised, the maximum was raised to 65%, and subsequently to 72.55% in August.
The pandemic and the lockdown (both domestic and international) had a significant impact on the aviation industry, with airlines losing billions of dollars.
However, with caseloads reducing and the economy gradually reviving, the long-term prospects are brighter, as seen by billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s entry into this market. Air Akasa obtained approval from the Aviation Ministry yesterday and plans to begin operations next year.