The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Saturday increased the passenger capacity of airlines from 72.5 percent to 85 percent of their pre-Covid domestic flights.
The order released by the Aviation ministry also stated that the fare band will only be applicable for 15 days and that the airlines are not required to stick to the fare band for the remaining 15 days of the month.
India had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services were resumed on May 25, 2020, after a two-month Covid-triggered lockdown.
The lower caps were imposed to help the airlines that have been struggling financially due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The upper caps were imposed so that passengers are not charged huge amounts when the demand for seats is high. Domestic air travel became costlier on August 12 this year as the Civil Aviation Ministry had raised the lower as well as upper caps on fares by 9.83 to 12.82 percent.
Between July 5 and August 12, the cap stood at 65 percent. Between June 1 and July 5, the cap was at 50 percent. The ministry issued a fresh order on Saturday, in which it modified the August 12 order stating that "72.5 percent capacity may be read as 85 percent capacity".
Saturday's order also noted that the 72.5 percent cap on passenger capacity will remain in place "until further order".
When the government had resumed the scheduled domestic flights on May 25 last year after a two-month break, the ministry had allowed the carriers to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-Covid domestic services.
The cap was gradually increased to 80 percent by December. The 80 percent cap remained in place till June 1.
The May 28 decision to bring down the cap from 80 to 50 percent 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 agencies inputs)