Explained: How the change in domestic flight fares’ cap affects you

The government has also relaxed the capacity restriction on domestic flight schedules from 65% to 72.5%. This means that airlines will now be able to deploy a higher number of flights on domestic routes.

As the economy reopens following the second wave of Covid-19, people are getting back to travelling by air and the government has relaxed the capacity restriction on domestic flight schedules from 65% to 72.5%.

This means that airlines will now be able to deploy a higher number of flights on domestic routes. In addition, the government has also increased the minimum and maximum fares that airlines can charge for domestic flights — something that is expected to make flying within the country more expensive.

Why has the government relaxed capacity restrictions?

Since the reopening of domestic aviation in May 2020 after the initial two-month lockdown, the Centre has regulated the number of flights an airline company can operate on domestic routes to prevent an overburden on the local infrastructure. Initially, the cap on number of flights was 33% of the pre-Covid schedule which was gradually increased to 80% till the second wave of Covid-19 hit. After that, the government had reduced it to 50%. The first relaxation following the second wave came when the capacity was increased to 60% and now it stands at 72.5%.

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What are the fare limitations?

Similar to the restrictions on flight capacity, the government has also regulated the fare bands in which the airlines can sell tickets. These are regulated by imposition of a minimum and maximum fare on seven buckets of sectors classified on the basis of flight duration. The government had raised the fare limitations earlier as well to allow airlines to accommodate the increase in fuel prices. As per the latest amendment, the minimum and maximum fares for the shortest sector — Class A — has been increased to Rs 2,900 and Rs 8,800 from Rs 2,600 and Rs 7,800. Similarly, the longest sector — Class G — has seen an increase in the fares to Rs 9,800 and Rs 27,200 from Rs 8,700 and Rs 24,200.


What are the routes in these sector buckets?

Class A includes routes such as Bengaluru-Chennai, Bhopal-Mumbai, Delhi-Jaipur, Pune-Goa, Delhi-Chandigarh, among 41 such sectors. Class B includes 83 routes like Delhi-Srinagar, Mumbai-Ahmedabad, Mumbai-Goa, Pune-Ahmedabad, Chennai-Hyderabad, Hyderabad-Bengaluru, Kolkata-Patna, etc. Class C comprises 87 sectors including Delhi-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Patna, Delhi-Lucknow, Mumbai-Bengaluru, Chennai-Kolkata, Delhi-Nagpur, etc. The fourth bucket — Class D — includes 70 sectors like Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Kolkata, Mumbai-Chennai, Patna-Ahmedabad, and Kolkata-Bengaluru. Class E has 60 sectors such as Delhi-Bengaluru, Delhi-Goa, Bengaluru-Patna, Mumbai-Patna, Chennai-Ahmedabad, Delhi-Guwahati, Jaipur-Bengaluru, etc. The second-longest bucket — Class F — has 32 routes such as Delhi-Kochi, Bengaluru-Chandigarh, Chennai-Guwahati, Mumbai-Srinagar, Guwahati-Bengaluru, etc. The longest of the route buckets has six sectors — Coimbatore-Delhi, Delhi-Coimbatore, Delhi-Thiruvananthapuram, Port Blair-Delhi, Delhi-Port Blair and Thiruvananthapuram-Delhi.

How are these fare limitations applicable?

As per the government’s order, the minimum and maximum fare shall be charged by airlines on a 30-day rolling cycle from the date of the booking. So, for example, an airline will have to offer a fare in the said bucket only for 30 days ahead of the date of booking. Therefore, if someone is booking a flight on August 16, fare bands shall be applicable only on flights being offered for booking till September 14. Any booking done on August 16 for travel on or after September 15 will not be controlled by these fare limitations. Similarly, any booking done on August 17 for travel up to September 15 will be controlled by the fare bands, and so on.

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