1 min read.Updated: 13 Oct 2021, 06:02 AM ISTRhik Kundu
Airlines will be able to operate at their full pre-covid (2019) capacity, up from the 85% limit that is currently allowed by government, the civil aviation ministry said
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NEW DELHI :
Capacity restrictions on local airlines, in place since the resumption of flight operations in May last year, will be lifted from 18 October, the government said, as festive travel demand surged, driving a welcome rebound in tourism.
Airlines will be able to operate at their full pre-covid (2019) capacity, up from the 85% limit that is currently allowed by government, the civil aviation ministry said on Tuesday. Mint has reviewed a copy of the circular.
Indian airlines resumed domestic operations on 25 May 2020, after being grounded for two months during the nationwide lockdown. At the time, airlines were allowed to fill only a third of the capacity, with the cap later being raised to 45% and then 60%. This was further increased to 80% in December 2020.
Air traffic picked up after the lockdown was lifted in May 2020 and rose every month till March 2021 before the second wave of covid hit. In May, the government readjusted the cap and allowed airlines to operate only 50% of their capacity on domestic flights.
The removal of the cap comes at a time when domestic air traffic is on the rise. The average number of daily fliers rose to 262,000 in the week to 9 October from 240,000 the week before, broking firm ICICI Securities said in a report on Monday.
“For the week ending 9 Oct, the average number of departures increased to 2,225 vs 2,080 in the previous week. The number of fliers per departure rose to 118 versus 115 in the prior week," the report added.
Domestic passenger traffic has grown significantly in the past few months with the easing of curbs following the decline in covid cases. Overall, domestic air passenger traffic rose 74% annually and 3% sequentially to 6.9 million passengers in September due to a significant decline in infections, credit rating agency Icra said last week.