There is good news for those flying domestically in India. Airlines schedule regulation is becoming more aligned with market forces as occupancy picks up.
In May 2020, when Indian domestic skies were opened up for passenger flights again, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation argued that they did not want airlines competing. Hence, they made them all price their tickets similarly by creating new rules. This might have resulted in a couple of Indian carriers such as SpiceJet and
GoAir Go First from being crushed to death at the point.
Over time, the rules have changed. When the second wave hit, the capacity controls were put in place again, slowly being reviewed. As of October 10, 2021, about 309K people took to the skies, almost the highest number we have seen in the past 18 months. The last we knew, 85% capacity of the approved schedule could be flown, which has just been updated to 100% with immediate effect. This order takes the flights allocated to all airlines as of the Summer 2020 schedule as the baseline, and now, these airlines can operate 100% of flights of that schedule. Many media outlets are reporting this as a bump to 100% seating capacity on the plane, which was not constrained in the first place.
The official statement by the Ministry of Civil Aviation said, “After review of the current status of Scheduled Domestic Operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel in terms of the purpose specified in the initial order dated May 21, 2020…it has been decided to restore the scheduled domestic air operations with effect from 18-10-2021 without any capacity restriction.”
They don’t have to be the same routes, but the count can go up to 100% of that number. For instance, if Air India was approved to operate 1000 flights a day in April 2020, they can take their flight operations to 1000 flights a day around India again.
Not just that, the fare regulation is also coming off the edge. For the longest time (since May 2020), the airlines could only price their economy class tickets per a formula dictated by MoCA. A few days ago, this was tweaked, and only tickets up to one month out need to be priced as per the formula, and beyond that, tickets could be cheaper/expensive per the airline’s determination. Now, this window has been further tweaked, and only tickets for the next 15 days need to be priced per the MoCA formula, and beyond that, the airlines can price as they wish.
India will soon see more flights take to the skies, as the government of India allows them to mount more flights per their freedom in the future.
What do you think of the new rules for air travel?
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