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Domestic flight ticket can get costly as govt. raises cap by up to 30%

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Booking flight tickets can now put extra burden on passengers’ wallet as the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday increased the lower and upper limits on domestic airfares by 10 to 30 per cent.

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These new limits would remain “in force up to March 31, 2021, or until further orders”, the ministry said in its today’s order.

Last year, while announcing the resumption of scheduled domestic flights in May, the ministry had placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration.

The first such band was consist of flights that were of less than 40 minutes duration. However, increasing the lower limit for the first band on Thursday the ministry has pegged the new price at ₹ 2,200 from previous ₹ 2,000. Furthermore, the upper limit of this band has been increased to ₹ 7,800, which was ₹ 6,000 earlier.

The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes. The fresh lower and upper limits set by the ministry for these bands on Thursday are: ₹ 2,800 – ₹ 9,800, ₹ 3,300 – ₹ 11,700, ₹ 3,900 – ₹ 13,000, ₹ 5,000 – ₹ 16,900, ₹ 6,100 – ₹ 20,400 and ₹ 7,200 – ₹ 24,200, respectively.

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Since May 21, 2020 to till date, the lower and upper limits for these bands were: ₹ 2,500 – ₹ 7,500, ₹ 3,000 – ₹ 9,000, ₹ 3,500 – ₹ 10,000, ₹ 4,500 – ₹ 13,000, ₹ 5,500 – ₹ 15,700 and ₹ 6,500 – ₹ 18,600, respectively.

Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had said on May 21 last year that each airline would sell at least 40 per cent of its tickets on a flight at prices less than the midpoint between the lower limit and upper limit.

Meanwhile, domestic passenger services resumed on May 25, 2020 after nearly two months of shut down to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Along with the limits on airfares, the government had directed the airlines to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. However, on June 26, this cap was revised and increased to 45 per cent, which later went up to 80 per cent.

The ministry said on Thursday that the 80 per cent limit would remain in place till March-end.

The aviation sector has been severely affected due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

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All Indian air carriers, last year, took cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave without pay and firing of employees in order to conserve cash.

As of now, the scheduled international passenger traffic continues to remain suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. However, special international flights have been operating since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements.

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