Updated: October 14, 2021 7:31:52 am
Taking account of the onset of festivals season in the country that is leading to a rebound in demand for air travel, the government has done away with capacity restrictions imposed on airlines for domestic flights, allowing them to operate 100% of the scheduled capacity.
Why has the government relaxed capacity restrictions?
In an order, the government noted: “After a review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations vis-a-vis passenger demand for air travel … it has been decided to restore the scheduled domestic air operations with effect from 18.10.21 without any capacity restriction. The airlines/airport operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of COVID are strictly adhered to and COVID appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced by them during the travel”.
How have these restrictions been relaxed over time?
Since the reopening of domestic aviation in May 2020 after the initial two-month lockdown, the Centre has regulated the number of flights airlines can operate on domestic routes to prevent overheating of the sector. Initially, the cap on number of flights was 33% of the pre-Covid schedule, and this was gradually increased to 80% till the second wave of Covid-19 hit. After that the government had reduced it to 50% and then relaxed it to 60%, 72.5%, 85%, and has now completely removed the restrictions.
How is the air traffic demand in India shaping up?
On October 10, domestic passenger numbers clocked at 3.04 lakh crossing the 3 lakh per day mark for the first time since February 28 this year, when 3.14 lakh passengers had traveled on domestic flights.
Considering the rising demand, the two biggest airports in the country — Delhi and Mumbai — have also geared up for the rebound in air traffic by announcing the reopening of terminals that were closed on account of low footfall earlier.
Delhi Airport announced that operations at Terminal 1 would resume from October 31, almost 18 months after closure, with IndiGo and SpiceJet. Mumbai Airport, which witnessed chaos and flight delays last week on account of sudden increase in traffic, preponed the resumption of its Terminal 1 to Wednesday from the earlier date of October 20.
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