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Centre fixes caps on airfares

The base ticket price will range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,500 and the maximum will be between Rs 6,000 and Rs 18,600

  • Published 22.05.20, 12:23 AM
  • Updated 22.05.20, 5:02 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Preparations underway on Thursday at the Chennai airport for a calibrated resumption of flights from May 25. PTI

The government will set an upper and lower limit for airfares for flights resuming from May 25 after a two-month hiatus.

Attendants on these flights will wear protective suits and goggles and food will not be served on board and only one check-in baggage will be allowed per flyer.

“While the airfares have been capped for three months, the domestic passenger service would begin with a third of the summer schedule, which could be reviewed over a period of time,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

All the air travel routes have been divided into seven sections based on the duration of flights ranging from 40 minutes to 210 minutes. Fares will be regulated and fixed on the basis of flight duration.

The base airfare will range from Rs 2,000 to Rs 6,500 and the maximum will be between Rs 6,000 and Rs 18,600, the ministry circular said.

Puri said the minimum airfare for a Delhi-Mumbai flight will be Rs 3,500, while the maximum fare will be capped at Rs 10,000. The new order will be applicable from May 25 to August 24.

“The fare band is split into different buckets. Around 40 per cent of the seats have to be sold at a fare less than the midpoint of the band.

Pradeep Singh Kharola, secretary, civil aviation, said: “For example if we take the Delhi-Mumbai route, the lowest fare prescribed is Rs 3,500 while the upper limit is Rs 10,000. However, this fare band is split into buckets and then airlines allot seats in different buckets. Only a lower and upper cap may create problem as airlines may sell all seats at the highest price. So we are putting a second rider that 40 per cent of the seats have to be sold at fares less the mid-point of the band.”

So for a Delhi-Mumbai flight, which is the busiest section, the midpoint of Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000 is Rs 6,700. So 40 per cent of the seats have to be sold at a price less than Rs 6,700. This is how we are ensuring that fares don’t go out of control, the minister said.

In addition, the capping is applicable only to base fares. Taxes such as user development fee and GST (Goods and Services Tax) will be charged additionally.

Puri also said middle seats won’t be kept vacant.

“Fare cap is a bad and unfortunate decision…it will hurt airlines more than helping them. Interfering in pricing, which is most strategic to airlines, is taken based on a wrong advice,” said Kapil Kaul of CAPA South Asia, an advisory and research practice in the aviation sector.

New rules

The civil aviation ministry has also come out with a set of guidelines for passengers.

“The passengers are expected to certify the status of their health through the Aarogya Setu app or a self-declaration form,” said the ministry. They will have to go for web-check-in as physical check-in counters will not operate.

The rules include no meals on board, mandatory temperature checks for all passengers and allowing only one check-in bag for each passenger.

People who had tested positive for Covid-19 will not be allowed to travel. All the passengers will have to wear masks.