New Delhi: Talking about the cap on airfares as an “extraordinary measure”, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said that the price bands are expected to be discontinued when flight services reach pre-Covid levels. ASLO READ | Farmers’ Protest: After Tractor Rally & Chakka Jam, Unions Now To Hold ‘Rail Roko’ Agitation On Feb 18
Responding to questions in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri recalled how the civil aviation sector was completely shut down on March 23, 2020, and then reopened on May 25 in a calibrated manner with the enforcement of SOPs, provisions for seamless contactless travel and other such measures.
The Union Minister also revealed why are flights not operating up to 80 percent capacity.
“We are now confronted with an interesting situation. On the one hand, some of the carriers want us to open full capacity, 100 percent, whereas others would like to go slow,” he said.
The decision to raise beyond 80 percent capacity will be taken based on the behaviour of the virus and “our sense” of comfort with air travel having all the SOPs, he added.
“It is not our intention – it also cannot be in an open, deregulated market situation–to have the fare bands made a permanent feature. So, it is our expectation that when flights open up to pre-Covid levels in this summer schedule, we would not have the need for a price band,” the minister said.
Puri informed that in May there were only 30,000 passengers but the figures for Monday are about 2,87,000 passengers.
“So, the demand is rising and once there is economic and commercial viability, the airlines will not need any encouragement from us to restart the flights,” he said.
Once air travel opens to greater capacity, it was informed that centre can encourage airlines to neither sell tickets at a rock bottom price nor at hefty rates.
The order for capping of fare is valid till March 31, 2021. The domestic scheduled operations at present are opened up to 80 percent of the Summer Schedule 2020.
Opening up of the domestic scheduled operations and relaxation in fare capping will now essentially rely on Covid-19 situation in country, status of operations and passenger demand for air travel.
(With Agency Inputs)