Air travel will now become a little expensive as the government has decided to increase the lower limit on airfares by five per cent amid rising aviation turbine fuel (ATF) prices, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday.
The upper limit on airfares will remain as it is for now. Just a month back, the Centre had increased the lower and upper limits on domestic airfares by 10-30 per cent due to rising ATF prices.
While announcing resumption of scheduled domestic flights in May last year, the Aviation Ministry had placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration.
The first band consists of flights having less than 40-minute duration and its lower limit has been increased to Rs 2,310 on Friday. The lower limit for the highest band of flights having duration of 180-210 minutes was further hiked to Rs 7,560.
“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,” Puri tweeted. “We may open the sector for 100% operations when daily passenger traffic crosses 3.5 lakhs on 3 occasions in a month.”
Currently, the airlines are permitted to operate not more than 80 per cent of their per-COVID domestic flights.
“Last few days have seen a decline in the number of air passengers largely due to restrictions & imposition of compulsory RT-PCR test by various states. Due to this we have decided to retain the permissible limit to 80% of schedule,” Puri added.
The government had taken the decision to impose lower and upper limits on airfares while resuming domestic services in May last year in order to ensure that the financially-hit airlines are able to survive as well as passengers are not charged exorbitantly.
The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic. All Indian carriers last year took cost-cutting measures like pay cuts, leave without pay and firing of employees.
Scheduled international passenger traffic continues to remain suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements formed with various countries.