The Civil Aviation Minister also capped airfares for the next three months and has set floor and ceiling prices for all routes.
Ahead of domestic flights opening up on May 25, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri announced on Friday that there will not be any requirement of quarantine after taking a domestic flight. This comes even as those travelling to other cities and states via roads and trains are being placed under a 14-day quarantine.
While returnees from abroad were placed under institutional quarantine, the Aviation Ministry said that while those were long-haul flights, quarantine requirements would not be required in short haul flights like the ones in India. Puri said.
He said that it was not practical if someone went to one place, was quarantined there for 14 days, and was quarantined for 14 more days when they returned. “Quarantine will be dealt with in a pragmatic matter,” he added
The guidelines and standard operating procedures put out earlier on Thursday stated that passengers will have to adhere to the health protocols of the respective states or union territories.
For which flights will be operating, the Civil Aviation Minister said that for metro to metro cities, metro to non-metro cities and vice-versa with more than 100 weekly departures, airlines will be allowed to operate one-third capacity of the approved summer schedule. In this case, metro cities are Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.
The summer schedule is an international practice, based on which the Directorate General of Civil Aviation approves two flight schedules every year — summer and winter. Summer schedule is effective from the Sunday of the last week of March, and winter schedule from Sunday of the last week of October.
Similarly, for metro to non-metro routes where the number of departures is less than 100 every week, airlines are free to operate any routes of the one-third capacity of the approved summer schedule. The same applies to all other cities as well which are not categorised in the above list. This shall remain in force till 11.59 pm on August 24, 2020.
The minister also clarified that middle seats will not be kept empty.
The minister also capped airfares for the next three months and has set floor and ceiling prices for all routes.
For the floor and ceiling prices of airfares, the ministry divided up the routes into seven sectors — A with flight durations of less than 40 minutes, B with durations of 40 minutes to 60 minutes, C with 60 minutes to 90 minutes, D with 90 minutes to 120 minutes, E with 120 to 150 minutes, F with 150 to 180 minutes and G with 180 to 210 minutes. With a maximum flight duration of 3.5 hours, the minister said that it covers all flights domestically.
In each band, there will be a minimum and a maximum price. However, there is a second rider, which states that at least 40% of the seats must be sold at a price less than the halfway mark between the minimum and maximum price.
For example, for one of India’s densest routes Delhi-Mumbai, the minimum is Rs 3,500 and the maximum is Rs 10,000. In this case, the halfway mark is Rs 6,750, and 40% of tickets must be sold at this price.
The price for each sector is as follows:
It is important to note that this floor and ceiling does not include of the Passenger Service Fee (PSF), User Development Fee (UDF) and 5% GST that is levied.
Prior to this, airlines would set their fare range based on a variety of things, and sold tickets in different buckets. “If the cheap bucket was exhausted, depending on demand before the flight the number of seats that were pending, it would go on a market determined ticketing,” Puri said.
Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said that this needed to be done as only one-third of the flights will be operating, and there is huge pent-up demand.
“Once we exit this, we may return to status quo, or go to a market-based system that is equitable,” Puri added.