The Centre has allowed domestic airlines to deploy up to 80% of their pre-Covid flight capacity from an earlier 70%, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday. In a tweet, Puri said: "Domestic operations recommenced with 30K passengers on 25 May & have now touched a high of 2.52 lakhs on 30 Nov 2020. @MoCA_GoIa is now allowing domestic carriers to increase their operations from existing 70 % to 80 % of pre-Covid approved capacity."
Last month, the Centre had allowed domestic airlines to deploy up to 70% of their flight capacity, up from 60% capacity utilisation in the domestic sector allowed with effect from September 2. In June, the capacity was raised to 45% from an initial 33%.
Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of COVID-19, and domestic flights resumed in a phased manner from May 25.
Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier exuded confidence that air travel will reach pre-COVID levels by the end of the current year or early next year. He said that for the civil aviation sector to reach the pre-COVID level, people are required to continue to maintain safety protocol with self-discipline.
"At a scale at which we are opening up in a calibrated manner, we have already reached 70 per cent capacity and I have asked my colleagues to look at 80 per cent. I am confident that by 31st December or soon thereafter... means a week or two thereafter, we will be back to pre-Covid levels," he said.
Puri said he was committed to bring aviation GDP back to India. He was confident that the sector would get a boost in the next few years with the country getting 100 new airports and the fleet size reaching up to 2,000 from around 750 now.
"Our fleet size today should be around 750. I know airlines when they come across a pandemic like this, they try to curtail the size of their fleet orders. But, I can say with seven per cent penetration which means out of every 100 Indians, only seven fly and a 17 per cent rate of growth which we experienced pre-Covid at one time, we will move from 750, not to the 1,200 which everybody says, but to 2,000 aircraft. We will do it pretty quickly," he had said.