Centre has extended the 60 per cent limit on flight capacity for Indian airlines till February 24. This cap on flight operations, which was put into effect in September, will now continue for most of the aviation winter schedule. The extension of flight capacity limit comes even as airlines claim an improvement in passenger demand.
On October 29, the aviation ministry clarified that its previous order dated September 2, 2020, regarding opening of domestic flight operations and fare bands will remain in effect till February 24, 2021, or until further orders. The ministry order in this regard has been sent to aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation for implementation.
Flight operations, both domestic and international, had been suspended on March 25 as India entered a lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Domestic airlines were allowed to operate flights after two months on May 25 at one-third capacity of their summer schedule. This limit was then revised to 45 per cent flight capacity on June 26, and further expanded to 60 per cent on September 2.
Meanwhile, scheduled international flights remained suspended. On October 28, the DGCA extended suspension of international flights till November 30. However, India continues to fly repatriation flights under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back its citizens stranded in foreign countries due to travel restrictions on the back of coronavirus lockdown.
India has also entered into air bubble arrangements with 18 nations. These are temporary reciprocal air travel arrangements that allow people to travel between India and these countries.
On October, DGCA approved said it has approved 12,983 weekly domestic flights of airlines for the winter schedule that begins on Sunday and ends on March 27 next year. In last year's winter schedule, the aviation regulator had approved 23,307 weekly domestic flights. This is only 55.7 per cent of flights approved in the winter schedule last year.
The DGCA said it has approved 6,006 weekly domestic flights of IndiGo for this year's winter schedule. IndiGo is India's largest airline. SpiceJet and GoAir have got 1,957 weekly domestic flights and 1,203 weekly domestic flights approved, the regulator said.