Government cuts airline capacity to 50% | India News – Times of India



    MUMBAI: Domestic airlines will operate only upto 50 % of their pre-Covid capacity for two months from June 1 onwards. An order to this effect was issued by the civil aviation ministry on Friday. Currently, airlines are permitted to operate upto 80 % capacity of the summer schedule 2020. This is the first time since the resumption of domestic flight operations in May last year that the government has cut back on airline capacity.
    In view of the sudden surge in the number of active Covid cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and passenger load factor, the existing capacity cap of 80 % has been reduced to 50 %, said the order issued by Satyendra Kumar Mishra, joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation. The order, which will come into effect from June 1 shall remain in force till 2359 hrs IST on July 31, 2021.
    On December 3 last year, the civil aviation ministry had permitted airlines to increase their operations from 70 % to 80 % of their pre-Covid levels. But the Covid second wave brought along a second despondent May for the airline industry. For instance: the average daily passenger traffic at Mumbai airport has dropped to about 17,600 passengers this month, which is a 68 % decline as compared to the 55,800 passengers handled daily in January.
    Last summer, after a two-month-long suspension of flights, the Centre had permitted resumption of domestic flight operations from May 25, but with restrictions put in place to keep Covid cases under check. Airlines were allowed to operate only upto 33 % of their pre-Covid capacity, which was then increased to 45 % in June. As passenger traffic picked up in the following months the government permitted airlines to deploy more and more capacity. However, from the last week of March onwards, the Covid second wave began hitting passenger traffic. In April, airlines approached civil aviation ministry seeking a lower capacity cap from the current 80 percent to 60 percent. The ministry had informed airlines that 80 % capacity will be retained till May 31.
    Meanwhile, domestic airfares hit a new low recently. On Friday, the cheapest return fare for travel the next day on Delhi-Mumbai started at Rs 5900.


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