Centre allows airlines to fly 60% of their pre-COVID domestic passenger flights

In a move that will further ease restrictions, the Centre on Wednesday permitted Indian airlines to increase the number of domestic passenger flights to 60 per cent of their pre-COVID services, according to an official order. On June 26, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had allowed the airlines to operate a maximum of 45 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.

Modifying its previous order of June 26 where it had put the 45 per cent limit on the number of domestic flights, the ministry issued an order on Wednesday stating that, “45 per cent capacity may be read as 60 per cent capacity”.

An official statement read, “After review of the current status of Scheduled Domestic Operations viz-a-viz passenger demands for air travel in terms of purpose specified in the initial order Order No. 01/2020 dated 21.05.2020, condition laid down in para 2 of the order dated 21.05.2020 as modified vide Order No. 03/2020 dated 26.06.2020, is modified as under: “45% capacity may be read as 60 % capacity.” 

“This order shall take effect from the date of issue of this order. The other terms and conditions shall remain the same. This issues with the approval of the competent authority,” it added.

The ministry had restarted domestic passenger services from May 25, after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. However, the airlines were allowed to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. The average occupancy rate in domestic flights since their resumption in India on May 25 has been around 50-60 per cent only.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country since March 23 due to the pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating under Vande Bharat Mission since May and under bilateral air bubble pacts signed with various countries since July.

India’s COVID-19 tally of cases galloped past 37 lakh on Wednesday with 78,357 new instances of the disease reported in a day, said the Union Health Ministry. The death toll climbed to 66,333 with 1,045 more fatalities were reported in 24 hours.

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