New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has raised the lower limit on domestic airfare by 5 per cent with immediate effect, which will result in the price of cheapest flight tickets going up.
In a tweet Friday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the move was taken keeping in view the “continuous rise” in prices of aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
There has been a continuous rise in price of ATF so it has been decided to increase the lower fare band by 5% keeping the upper fare band unchanged. We may open the sector for 100% operations when daily passenger traffic crosses 3.5 lakhs on 3 occasions in a month.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) March 19, 2021
While the lower limit of airfare has been increased, the upper limit remains unchanged. The new price band will be reviewed at the end of April.
How much will flight tickets increase?
The civil aviation ministry had imposed limits on airfares through seven bands in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, when domestic and international flights were suspended. The bands were decided based on flight duration.
The first band comprised flights with duration of under 40 minutes. In this band, the lower limit has now been increased by 5 per cent — from Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,320. However, the upper limit remains unchanged at Rs 7,800.
The subsequent bands include flights that have duration between 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes, respectively.
After the new price band in effect, the latest lower and upper limit for these bands are — Rs 2,940 and Rs 9,800, Rs 3,465 and Rs 11,700, Rs 4,094 and Rs 13,000, Rs 5,250 and Rs 16,900, Rs 6,405 and Rs 20,400, Rs 7,560 and Rs 24,200, respectively, according to the ministry.
The price caps are temporary and will be discontinued once normal flight operations resume, the ministry has said.
Airlines will continue to operate at 80%
Airlines, however, will continue to operate domestic flights at 80 per cent until further orders on account of decline in the number of air passengers due to Covid restrictions and imposition of compulsory RT-PCR test by various states.
“This decision was taken keeping in mind a dip in demand during March. We are monitoring this closely. Fare caps and capacity limits are being reviewed regularly,” said a senior ministry official who didn’t want to be named.
Restrictions on domestic flights were first imposed in May 2020 when air travel had resumed after nearly two months owing to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Since then, several revisions have been made to the fare caps and capacity limits keeping in mind the situation in India.
Answering a question in Parliament, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said in February, “The floor and ceiling price was an extraordinary measure which was necessitated by an extraordinary situation which we found ourselves in. It is designed to ensure that airlines in a situation of limited availability did not charge exorbitant prices. It is not our intention and cannot be in an open market deregulated situation to have the fare band made a permanent feature.”
The government has not taken any decision yet on the resumption of scheduled international flights. As of now, India has established 27 air bubbles to accommodate overseas travel.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)