NEW DELHI — Scheduled domestic flights in India will now operate with an increased capacity of 72.5 percent, up from the 65 percent limit due to Covid-19, starting Aug. 13. And, airfares will cost 12.5 percent more, as per the aviation ministry.

With the threat of Covid-19 receding in the country, for now, the aviation sector is opening up after suffering heavy losses.

“Domestic scheduled airlines have been given the all-clear to operate flights with up to 72.5 percent of total capacity,” as per an order issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Aug. 12.

The last revision in guidelines came in July when the cap was raised from 50 percent since June 2020 to 65 percent. In May 2020, flights were first allowed to fly with a reduced capacity (33 percent of pre-Covid levels) to implement physical, social distancing on flights after two months of complete suspension of flights.

The ministry also hiked the domestic airfare by 12.50 percent effective from Aug. 13. However, this does not include the airport user development fee (UDF), passenger security fee, and goods and services tax. Currently, the order is applicable just for August.

There is a possibility of a new order regarding airfare capping from Sept. 1. The ceiling fare for routes falling under Sector A, namely, Delhi-Chandigarh, Goa-Mumbai, Mangalore-Bengaluru, and Srinagar-Jammu, has been increased from INR 7,800 ($105.01) to INR 8,775 ($118.13). The minimum fare under Sector A was INR 2,600 ($35), but as per the new fare applicable from Aug 13, it has been raised to INR 2,925 ($39.38).

The price ceiling for the routes falling under Sector B — including Ahmedabad-Bhopal, Leh-Delhi, Hyderabad-Mumbai, and Delhi-Srinagar — has been increased from INR 9,800 ($131.93) to INR 11,025 ($148.43). The minimum fare — INR 3,300 ($44.43) — has been revised to INR 3,712.5 ($48.98).

As for Sector C, a minimum fare of INR 4,500 ($60.58) applies to all routes under the division — Bengaluru-Mumbai, Kolkata-Lucknow, Patna-Delhi, Chennai-Kolkata — up from INR 4,000 ($53.58). The upper limit has been raised from INR 11,700 ($157.51) to INR 13,162.50 ($177.20).

Domestic passenger flights have been in operation across the board, unlike international scheduled flights that remain suspended. However, the Indian government is running a fleet of Air India Covid-19 repatriation flights under the “Vande Bharat” mission to bring back Indian citizens stranded overseas, alongside limited international flights that are in operation under travel-bubble arrangements with 28 countries.

Meanwhile, the Indian parliamentary standing committee for transport, tourism, and culture (including the civil aviation ministry) is expected to take up the increasing fare cost between India and the United Kingdom. India-UK one-way airfares have skyrocketed upwards of INR 400,000 ($5,376.16).

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Amrita Das and Krishna Kakani

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