Normalcy? Domestic flights can carry 100% passengers from Oct 18

India suspended all scheduled international passenger flights on March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representational image: Twitter

Airlines can fill its passenger capacity in domestic flights to 100% from October 18 in India as the aviation ministry has lifted limits on the passenger capacity.

This comes as the number of Covid-19 cases drop steadily in the country while the number of people taking vaccination jabs is slowly covering more of the population.

India’s active caseload of Covid-19 stands at 2,14,900, which is lowest in 212 days. As many as 98 crore vaccine doses have been given, of which 27.35 crore are fully vaccinated.

According to an order from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, “after review of the current status of Scheduled Domestic Operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel”, it “decided to restore all scheduled domestic operations with effect from 18-10-2021 without any capacity restriction”.

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The current cap on domestic flight capacity is 85 per cent. It was 50 per cent between June 1 and July 5, 2020, and 65 per cent between July 5 and August 12. It was slowly raised to 80 per cent by December 2020, but the second wave of Covid-19 saw restrictions being imposed again.

The ministry however cautioned airlines and airport operators to “ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of Covid are strictly adhered to and Covid appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced by them during the travel”.

The news comes days after the government announced that a Tata subsidiary had won the bids to the national carrier Air India.

According to credit ratings agency ICRA, domestic air passenger traffic increased by 2-3 per cent to around 69 lakh in September as compared to around 67 lakh in August.

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