The civil aviation on Monday lifted all restrictions on domestic flight movements. Airlines will now be able to operate at 100 per cent from October 18. The restrictions were imposed when airlines resumed operations after a covid-led break last May. The government is however yet to remove the fare caps. The government decided to do away with the capacity restrictions imposed on airlines for domestic flights and have allowed them to operate at 100 per cent capacity due to the onset of festival seasons which has rebounded the demand in air travel once again.
Why does the government relax flight capacity restrictions?
In the official release, government said that owing to the passenger demand for air travel, we have decided to restore domestic air operations. “After a review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations vis-a-vis passenger demand for air travel … It has been decided to restore the scheduled domestic air operations with effect from 18.10.21 without any capacity restriction. The airlines/airport operators shall, however, ensure that the covid guidelines are followed strictly and that COVID appropriate behavior is strictly maintained by passengers during the travel”.
Restrictions in the past
Ever since domestic aviation reopened in May 2020 after two-month complete lockdown, the Centre has regulated the number of flights that can operate on domestic routes. Earlier, the cap on the number of flights was 33 per cent of the pre-Covid schedule. And then, the flight capacity gradually upped to 80 per cent till Covid-19’s second wave grappled the country. The government after that reduced it to 50 per cent and then relaxed it to 60 per cent, 72.5 per cent , 85 per cent and has now completely lifted all the restrictions and allowed flights to operate at 100 per cent capacity.
How is the air traffic demand in India showing up?
On October 10, domestic passenger numbers stood at 3.04 lakh crossing the 3 lakh per day mark for the first time since February 28, 2021, when 3.14 lakh passengers had traveled on domestic flights to different places.
Given the rise in domestic flight demand, India’s two biggest airports–Delhi and Mumbai geared up to meet the rise in air traffic and reopened the terminals that were otherwise closed on account of low footfall. Operations at Delhi’s Terminal 1 would resume from October 31, announced the Delhi Airport after remaining closed for almost 18 months. Mumbai Airport, on the other hand, witnessed flight delays last week due to the sudden increase in traffic.