NEW DELHI: Witnessing a slump in the number of air passengers once again amid a sharp spike in daily cases, many private airlines have asked the government to reduce the capacity allowed (the number of flights that an airline is scheduled to fly) from 80 per cent of the pre-Covid level to 60 per cent. Moreover, they have also sought financial assistance.
These requests were made during a meeting with aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola on Tuesday.
Domestic airlines were allowed to operate flights after two months of lockdown on May 25 at one-third capacity of their summer schedule. This limit was then revised to 45 per cent flight capacity on June 26, further expanded to 60 per cent and then 80 per cent.
However, the exponential rise in cases in recent weeks has impacted the demand, which dropped by nearly 13 per cent in the last week of March compared to the previous month. The domestic traffic witnessed further jolt in April and demand fell by 5 per cent from the last week’s average of March. An industry expert said the second wave has resulted in a lower number of bookings, reflecting the panic and fear among people.
The situation is likely to continue for next few weeks, with the authorities imposing restrictions and curfews in most parts of the country. Meanwhile, Air India on Tuesday offered one free change of date or flight to facilitate passengers who are uncertain of their travel plans due to Covid restrictions imposed by the state governments. This will be effective from April 12 till April 30 on domestic travel only. On Monday, the civil aviation ministry had announced that no meal will be served on flights with a duration of 120 minutes.