The Centre on Tuesday allowed the airlines to deploy full pre-Covid flight capacity in the domestic sector from October 18.
Passenger air services were suspended on March 25, 2020 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector was reopened on May 25, 2020 with a limited capacity of 33 per cent. Since then, the operational capacity has been decided in consonance with the prevailing Covid sitiuation.
As per Tuesday’s order, the capacity will be raised to 100 per cent from 85 per cent, which was set by the Civil Aviation Ministry on September 18, 2021, up from 72.5 per cent allowed in August and 65 per cent in July.
“After a review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations vis-a-vis passenger demand for air travel in terms of the purpose specified in the initial order, it has been decided to restore scheduled domestic operations with effect from October 18, 2021 without any capacity restriction,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in an order issued on Tuesday.
On its part, IndiGo said: “We are pleased with the government’s decision to allow airlines to operate at full capacity without any restrictions from October 18. It is a welcome move, as we believe that with the recent pent-up demand, combined with the upcoming festive season, it will be great to operate flights on pre-pandemic levels. We are quite bullish about the overall growth and demand for domestic travel.”
According to ixigo’s Co-founder and Group CEO Aloke Bajpai: “Restoring normal flight operations to full capacity is a very good sign, which is in line with the growing passenger confidence and demand we have seen for the upcoming quarter. The festive season has ushered in encouraging demand for travel.
“With the Covid-19 situation stabilising in India, domestic air passenger traffic crossed the 3,00,000-mark on October 9. We have seen 30-35 per cent MoM growth for flight bookings for leisure travel for the month of October.”
Nishant Pitti, CEO and Co-Founder, EaseMyTrip, said: “The Indian travel sector has witnessed one of the highest contractions since the pandemic, and we believe that the lifting of capacity restrictions will have a positive impact on airline partners to rise from the challenges that they have been facing over the past year-and-a-half.
“Additionally, with the festive season right around the corner, we believe that the measure is well-timed and a strong step that will boost the country’s travel and tourism sentiments. The strong vaccination drive and a decline in active cases have led to a positive travel sentiment, and this newly announced measure is set to further enable the safe and seamless recovery of the sector.”