Airlines can operate domestic flights without any capacity restriction from October 18 onwards. The Ministry of Civil Aviation made the announcement on Tuesday, October 12 keeping in mind the "passenger demand for air travelâ€ť. The carriers have been operating at 85% of their pre-COVID capacity since September 18, according to the ministry's order.
However, after reviewing the current status of the scheduled domestic operations with regard to passenger demand for air travel, the Civil Aviation Ministry has decided to remove capacity restrictions. â€śAfter review of the current status of Scheduled Domestic Operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel in terms of purpose specified in the initial Order No. 01/2020 dated 21.05.2020, it has been decided to restore the scheduled domestic air operations with effect from 18.10.2021 without any capacity restriction,â€ť the order states.
The order adds that the airlines /airport operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of COVID are strictly adhered to and COVID appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced by them during travel. The Director-General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has been asked to implement the schedule of airlines in accordance with the order.
The capacity cap stood at 72.5% between August 12 and September 18, 65% between July 5 and August 12, and 50% between June 1 and July 5. On October 9, the Indian carriers operated 2,340 domestic flights, which is 71.5 per cent of their total pre-COVID capacity.
The May 28 decision to bring down the cap from 80% to 50% from June 1 onwards was taken "in view of the sudden surge in the number of active COVID-19 cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and the passenger load (occupancy rate) factor", the ministry had said.
With PTI inputs