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The lower and upper limits on airfares will remain for 15 days at any given time and the airlines will be free to charge without any limits from the 16th day onwards, the Civil Aviation Ministry stated on Saturday. Since August 12 this year, this roll-over period was of 30 days and the airlines have been charging without limits from 31st day onwards.

Cap for 15 days

In a fresh order issued on Saturday, the Civil Aviation Ministry explained the change in rule: "If the current date is 20th September, then the fare band shall be applicable till 4th October. Any booking done on 20th September for travel on or after 5th October shall not be controlled by fare bands."

Fare bands to shift

"On the following day, that is, if the current date is 21st September, then the fare band shall be in force till 5th October and for travel on or after 6th October, the fare bands shall not be applicable," the order mentioned. So, the fare bands will shift by a day every day, it added.

India had imposed lower and upper limits on airfares based on flight duration when services were resumed on May 25, 2020, after a two-month Covid-induced lockdown.

Emergency air travel

Emergency air travel will continue to be subsidised as the cap will be applicable to tickets being booked 15 days in advance. 

For airlines and passengers 

The lower caps were imposed to help the airlines that have been struggling financially due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. The upper caps were imposed so that passengers are not charged huge amounts when the demand for seats is high.

Costlier flights

Domestic air travel became costlier on August 12 this year as the Civil Aviation Ministry had raised the lower as well as upper caps on fares by 9.83 to 12.82%.

For example, the ministry on August 12 increased the lower limit for flights under 40 minutes of duration from 2,600 to 2,900 -- an increase of 11.53 per cent. The upper cap for flights under 40 minutes of duration was increased by 12.82 per cent to 8,800.

Exclusion

The caps mentioned by the government in its order does not include the passenger security fee, user development fee for the airports and the GST. These charges are added on top when the ticket is being booked by the passenger.

"30 days" with "15 days"

The August 12 order also mentioned that the limits on airfares will remain in place for 30 days at any given time. On Saturday, the ministry modified the August 12 order, replacing the word "30 days" with "15 days".

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