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Air travel to be expensive: Govt raises limits on domestic airfares

Passengers will have to spend more money on air travel from now, as the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday increased the lower and upper limits for domestic airfares tickets by 10% to 30%. These new limits would remain "in force up to March 31, 2021, or until further orders", the ministry said its order on Thursday."Announcing the resumption of domestic flights scheduled on May 21 last year, the ministry imposed restrictions on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration.

The first such band consists of these flights lasting less than 40 minutes. The lower limit for the 1st band was increased on Thursday from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200. The upper limit in this range is set at Rs 7,800, which was Rs 6,000 earlier. The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes, and 180-210 minutes.

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The fresh lower and lower limits set by the Ministry for these bands on Thursday were: Rs 2,800 - Rs 9,800; Rs 3,300 and Rs 11,700; Rs 3,900, Rs 13,000; Rs 5,000, Rs 16,900; Rs 6,100 and Rs 20,400; Rs 7,200 and Rs 24,200, respectively. Till date, the lower and upper limits of these bands were: Rs 2,500 - Rs 7,500; Rs 3,000 – Rs 9,000; Rs 3,500 – Rs 10,000; Rs 4,500- Rs 13,000; Rs 5,500 - Rs 15,700 and Rs 6,500 - Rs 18,600 respectively.

Aviation regulator DGCA had said on May 21 last year that each airline would sell at least 40% of its tickets on a flight with prices less than the midpoint between the lower limit and the upper limit. Domestic passenger services resumed on May 25 after nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

Along with the limits on airfares, the government had asked airlines to operate not more than 33 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. On June 26, the limit was increased to 45%. This was gradually increased to 80%. On Thursday, the ministry said the 80% limit would remain in place till March-end.

The aviation sector has been hit hard by travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, all Indian carriers took cost-cutting measures, such as pay cuts, unpaid leave, and layoffs of employees to conserve cash.

Scheduled international passenger traffic remains suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating since July 2020 under the air bubble agreements formed with various countries.

Also Read: Mastercard to allow cardholders to transact in cryptocurrencies

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