New Delhi: Domestic airlines will be permitted to operate at 100 percent of their pre-Covid capacity beginning on October 18, as per the government announcement on Tuesday.
Since May 2020, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has capped domestic airline capacity. Currently, the cap on domestic flight capacity is set at 85 percent. The move by the government will allow airlines to operate more flights and increase passenger loads as the festive season begins across India.
Between August 12 and September 18, the capacity cap was 72.5 percent, 65 percent between July 5 and August 12, and 50 percent between June 1 and July 5. On October 9, Indian airlines flew 2,340 domestic flights, accounting for 71.5 percent of their total pre-COVID capacity.
The ministry stated in its order that "it has been decided to restore the scheduled domestic air operation with effect from October 18, 2021, without any capacity restriction".
The order noted that the decision was taken "after a review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel".
When the government resumed scheduled domestic flights on May 25 last year after a two-month hiatus, the ministry permitted carriers to operate no more than 33% of their pre-Covid domestic services.
The capacity was gradually increased to 80 per cent by December 2020. The 80-per cent cap remained in place till June 1 this year.
The May 28 decision to bring down the capacity from 80 to 50 per cent from June 1 onwards was taken "in view of the sudden surge in the number of active COVID-19 cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and the passenger load (occupancy rate) factor", the ministry had said.