Govt to allow airlines to increase capacity to 75% of pre-COVID levels

“The increase in the number of passengers taking domestic flights is encouraging and the need is to further increase the number of flights allowed. We are currently in discussions and may increase it to up to 75 per cent in a week to ten days,” av...

New Delhi: As demand for flying is set to increase during the upcoming festive season, the government is likely to increase the number of flights allowed to up to 75 per cent of pre-COVID levels in another week to ten days, aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said today.

“The increase in the number of passengers taking domestic flights is encouraging and the need is to further increase the number of flights allowed. We are currently in discussions and may increase it to up to 75 per cent in a week to ten days,” Puri told reporters today.

Airlines, which were grounded due to the lockdown during the months of April and May, were allowed to restart operations from May 25. The airlines were, initially, allowed to operate only 33 per cent of pre-COVID flights, which was increased to 45 per cent and then to 60 per cent during the first week of September.


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Scheduled domestic airlines operated about 2,500 flights a day before COVID and currently have permission to operate 1,500 flights daily.

Airline executives say that September was one of the best months post COVID and flight loads (percentage of seats filled per flight) across flights have increased. The month of October, which started with a long weekend on account of Gandhi Jayanti, is also looking good for airlines.

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Puri added that the Maharashtra government has informed the central government recently that it will allow about 30 per cent of pre-COVID flights in and out of Mumbai airport.

“The Mumbai airport saw 1000 movements (500 arrivals and 500 departures) per day prior to COVID. Increasing it to 300 will be a big push for domestic aviation,” Puri added.

Puri also said that the government has not taken any decision on fixing the fare band for airlines beyond November 24.

“Let me tell you, Price band has served its purpose… And also not all airlines are sad about the price band. We have not started any discussions on the price band yet,” he added.

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On the issue of international flights, Puri said that there is no clarity on resumption of normal international flights and limited international flights under air bubble arrangements will continue till that time.
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