Domestic flights across the country will resume in a calibrated manner from May 25 after a two-month long ban. The government will also cap airfares for different routes.
"Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday 25th May 2020. All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from May 25. SOPs for passenger movement are also being separately issued," Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri tweeted.
"Airports will operate at one-third of their capacity, and airlines will start a third of their flights," a senior official of the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on the condition of anonymity. "The government will also fix minimum and maximum airfares as a temporary measure," the official added. Airlines will not be required to leave seats empty, but it is reliably learnt that passengers may be required to wear face shields.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation will be meeting airlines on Thursday to finalise various modalities.
Domestic flights have been grounded since March 25 after the government banned air travel to check the spread of COVID-19. A decision on international flights is likely to take time.
Capping of airfares is an unprecedented move taken by the government, which has often maintained that the cost of an air ticket should be a function of demand and supply. The DGCA is known to nudge airlines during disasters like floods to ensure that airlines don't sell tickets at exorbitant rates.
"Even though temporary, fare capping is an unfortunate decision. CAPA India strongly disapproves of this decision. This is likely to push up airfares, which will affect passengers already struggling to get their refunds. No country has introduced fare capping post COVID-19. This is being done only in India," Kapil Kaul, CEO of CAPA India, told The Hindu .