Govt extends fare caps for domestic flights

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on April 26, 2021

The Civil Aviation Ministry has allowed flights to operate up to 80% of the capacity   -  JENNIFER GAUTHIER

Move comes amid skyrocketing international airfares as nations ban India travel

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has extended the cap on the airfare on domestic flights till May 31.

This comes even as international airfares have shot through the roof as several countries have banned travel to and from India.

Last month MoCA had increased the cap on the lowest and the highest price bands by 10-30 per cent. On Monday, in a statement, the Ministry said that it would extend that cap till May 31 now.

This is a respite for domestic customers but it seems that the demands of a section of the airline industry on capacity have been rejected.

Flight capacity

MoCA has allowed flights to operate up to 80 per cent of the capacity. BusinessLine had reported that in a meeting with the Civil Aviation authorities, a few airlines had requested to cap the flight capacity at 60 per cent so that it was a level playing field for financially ailing airlines.

While the government is trying its best to make travel affordable for those wanting to travel domestically, it is unable to control the international airfares. One-way economy tickets to the US and UK now cost over ₹1 lakh.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Jyoti Mayal, president of Travel Agents Association of India, said the airfares for destinations like the US and UK had shot up by at least 65-70 per cent.

Surge in bookings

According to Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-founder, said, “With the sudden surge in cases, and the US, the UK being among the favourite destinations of affluent Indians, there has been a surge in bookings with the people escaping to these countries for their own safety. This has resulted in an increase in the average ticket price for the flights booked.”

Per data from Ixigo, in February, the average airfare for Hyderabad to London was approximately ₹29,031; however, a quick search on Google on April 26 showed that the same route for a travel in June was at least 100 per cent higher. The airfares wavered between ₹43,000-1 lakh.

Similarly, when checked on MakeMyTrip for a flight from Mumbai to New York, the flights ranged anywhere between ₹1.28-1.78 lakh. Nonetheless, according to Pitti, there is still some hope.

Majority of people who would have wanted to travel due to concerns around Covid-19 cases, would have travelled within a week irrespective of the cost. “So, we can expect the condition to normalise very soon. Although this too will be dependent on the duration and the situation that shall prevail in the country,” Pitti added.

Published on April 26, 2021

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