NEW DELHI: The aviation sector is likely to return to pre-Covid stage by the end of this year. While the domestic operation of flights took off on May 25, number of domestic passengers has gone up by almost 100% during last 25 days of operations. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri on Saturday said that currently nearly 70,000 passengers use domestic flights on daily basis. Talking about success of Vande Bharat Mission, Puri said that during phase 3 and phase 4, private domestic airlines have been approved to operate 750 international flights apart from Air India operating nearly 300 flights to repatriate people stranded amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On starting International operation, the minister said that India needs airspace to be open for international operations along with border acceptance. Resumption of international flights depends on the opening of airports in other countries.
Secretary P S Kharola explained further that to resume any international flight operation, “both ends have to be ready and there has to be traffic”. He also said that the ministry may open up flights with North America on “case to case basis” as there has been significant air traffic on the route. On Air India disinvestment, the minister said he is now more confident on that.
“I have never been as hopeful and confident on Air India, divestment or disinvestment whatever you choose, as I am now. Air India is a first-class asset.” On the cap on air-fare, Kharola said that the upper and lower limits on airfares may be extended beyond August 24 depending upon how the situation turns out. The government resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but placed lower and upper limits on airfares depending upon the flight duration.
It had said on May 21 that these limits would be in place for a period of three months. On May 21, the aviation regulator DGCA issued the government- decided fare limits for these bands — domestic flights with less than 40-minute duration to have lower and upper limits of Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000, for 40-60 minutes Rs 2,500 and Rs 7,500, for 60-90 minutes Rs 3,000 and Rs 9,000, for 90-120 minutes Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000, for 120-150 minutes Rs 4,500 and Rs 13,000, and for 150- 180 minutes Rs 5,500 and Rs 15,700.