Air tickets to get costlier as Covid-era fare-capping recedes

According to the civil aviation minister, fare-capping was designed to ensure the airlines did not charge exorbitant prices in a situation of limited availability

Air tickets to get costlier as Covid-era fare-capping recedes
Planes lined up at the Delhi airport. Image courtesy: Twitter/@DelhiAirport

The cost of domestic air travel is set to increase further with the government deciding to raise the lower fare band by 5%. This comes after the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) increased the lower and upper limit of fares of air tickets by 10-30% in February. 

The latest increase in airfares was effected as a result of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) getting costlier, according to a report in The Economic Times. 

On May 21 last year, while announcing the resumption of domestic flights after a two-ban suspension in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government placed limits on airfares through seven bands classified on the basis of flight duration. 

According to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, fixing floor and ceiling prices was an extraordinary measure designed to ensure that the airlines did not charge exorbitant prices in a situation of limited availability.

Also read -- Indian govt hikes airfare caps: Here's how passengers will be affected

At a press conference in New Delhi on December 29, 2020, Puri had said that fare capping had benefited both the passengers and airlines. 

The fare capping would be in force till March 31, 2021. Puri had informed the Parliament that further opening up of the domestic sector and relaxations in fare capping would be subject to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the status of operations and passenger demand.  

Puri had said on February 10 that the price bands would be done away with once flight services reach pre-Covid levels, replying to questions in Parliament.      

Also read: Hardeep Singh Puri says fare caps benefited both passengers and airlines

The government has, however, decided to keep the flight capacity limit unchanged at 80% of the pre-Covid levels. This was done given the fact that the surge in Covid-19 cases in the past few months and the resultant restrictions imposed by various states in the country caused demand to dip. 

"Last few days have seen a decline in the number of air passengers largely due to restrictions & imposition of compulsory RT-PCR test by various states. Due to this, we have decided to retain the permissible limit to 80% of the schedule," Puri said. 

On March 21, 2021, 2,67,056 passengers departed on 2,282 flights, while 2,64,707 passengers arrived on 2,275 flights, according to MoCA data.  

A couple of days ago, Puri noted that 26.3 million flyers have already transited through the Indian airports since the domestic sector was reopened on May 25, 2020, and that passenger numbers were "holding steady" but cautioned that it was still not time to party.

While doing so, he humorously borrowed the term 'pawri' that was trending on social media after a Pakistani teenager deliberately mispronounced 'party' as 'pawri' in her Instagram video to poke fun at South Asians speaking with a fake Western accent.