On May 25, 2020, when airlines were allowed to fly domestically around India again, it came with certain SOPs for passengers and airlines.
The Indian Civil Aviation regulator, on allowing airlines to fly again, had however made two important commercial limitations for the airlines.
- Airlines were allowed to only fly up to 33% of their scheduled commercial flights, which was later extended to 45% of their schedule.
- Airlines were told to limit their fares, both at the lower as well as the upper end. This was done to ensure passengers only travel for essential reasons, and also are not charged excess when they decide to travel.
At the time these guidelines were put in place, the Government had told everyone that these guidelines were put in place till Auguer 24, 2020.
Now, the Government of India has notified, that both these orders will be extended through October 2020. That would mean, there would be fare caps applicable for each flight operated, as per the time blocked for the flight. This would be valid till November 24, 2020, at the moment. The sectors are from the shortest to the longest one. For instance, Mumbai – Goa, a 45-minute flight is in Class B, and Delhi – Mumbai, a 2-hour long flight is in Class D.
The DGCA has also issued appropriate circulars for this to be implemented.
At the moment, however, 45% also looks like a lot of capacity to be added to get anywhere at the moment, given air traffic has not even crossed 20% in the past two months of operations.
This interpretation also means, for an airline of the size of IndiGo, which would operate 1500 flights a day before the grounding, it can only operate about 676 flights a day. No clarity on how they can ramp up operations after this. Further, airlines will not have the ability to set their own fares but will be given a lower and upper fare limit by the Ministry during the times of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, this does not take into account the rising fuel cost for airlines at all, which has already gone up by about 60% between May and July 2020 itself.
Air travel won’t be the same again for the time being, but more cumbersome. So, flying will be reduced to a necessity than a thing that needs to be done for leisure or business. The demand, of course, has gone down, and I only expect those people to fly going forward who really need to fly.
Are you going to fly in the coming days or wait it out till things get better?
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