The government has decided to reopen air travel on 383 routes across the country after a two-month gap. It has, however, allowed one-third of the operations beginning May 25.
The civil aviation ministry has set limits on fares that airlines can charge in the initial phase of this critical unlocking of swift long-distance travel.
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said the government has identified seven bands (or sectors) based on flight durations. The fares – consistent for each band – will be capped till at least August 24.
Sector ‘A’ has routes with travel time of less than 40 minutes. This sector includes routes such as Delhi-Chandigarh, Jammu-Srinagar and Patna-Ranchi, among others. Sector ‘B’ has flights with duration of more than 40 minutes up to 60 minutes. This includes flights such as Delhi-Bhopal and Delhi-Lucknow. Sector ‘C’ has flights such as Delhi-Ahmedabad and Delhi-Patna’; whereas Sector ‘D’ includes routes like Delhi-Mumbai, among others. Since Delhi-Mumbai air travel takes around two hours, it has been put under Sector ‘D’.
Prominent flights under Sector ‘E’ are Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Bengaluru. Meanwhile, flights in Sector ‘F’ include Delhi-Kochi and Sector ‘F’ flights such as Delhi-Port Blair.
“Earlier, air carriers could put their range (minimum to maximum) on their websites…We want air travel to become affordable. We have set a minimum fare and a maximum fare. For Delhi to Mumbai, the minimum fare will be Rs 3,500 and maximum Rs 10,000,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said at the media briefing on Thursday.
The government said 40 per cent of the tickets in all bands will be sold at a price less than the mid-point (of the lower and upper limits). In case of a Delhi-Mumbai journey, these tickets will be priced at around Rs 6,700.
The move to set fare limits will ensure there is no overcharging by airlines in view of an expected rush of passengers and heightened demand for tickets, Puri said. At the same time, the move to set lower limits is expected to protect carriers from extremely low fares set by competitors.
Domestic flights with less than 40-minute duration, like the ones from Delhi to Chandigarh, will have lower and upper limits of Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced later in the day. For flights with duration between 40 and 60 minutes, such as Delhi to Lucknow, the lower and upper fare limits are Rs 2,500 and Rs 7,500.
In the next band (60-90 minutes for journeys like the ones between Bengaluru and Mumbai), the lower fare limit is Rs 3,000 and the upper limit is Rs 9,000, the aviation regulator said. Flights between 120 and 150 minutes, including those on major routes such as Delhi-Bengaluru, will have lower and upper limits of Rs 4,500 and Rs 13,000.
Those with duration between 150 and 180 minutes (such as Delhi to Imphal), the lower and upper limits are set at Rs 5,500 and Rs 15,700. And finally, for flights with duration between 180 and 210 minutes – like the ones on Delhi-Coimbatore route – the range will be Rs 6,500 and Rs 18,600.
The Railways also issued a list of 100 routes of trains that it will operate from June 1, putting in operation popular trains such as Durontos, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis and Poorva Express.
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