India is getting ready to kickstart its air services!
On May 21, 2020, the Centre issued directives to resume air services in 388 routes across the nation.
However, only one-third of the operations will begin from May 25, 2020, with fare limits in the initial phase on long-distance travel.
The Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said they had identified seven bands depending on flight durations.
The government categorized 7 bands into different sectors, by the time of the journey, as follows:
- 40 minutes- Sector A
- 40-60 minutes – Sector B
- 60-90 minutes – Sector C
- 90-120 minutes – Sector D
- 120-150 minutes – Sector E
- 150-180 minutes – Sector F
- 180-210 minutes – Sector G
The Ministry also informed about the set of guidelines for passengers on how air travel in India will be the aftermath of the COVID-19 scenario.
“We have been able to escape the situation other countries have found themselves in. It is equally important that at some stage, you will have to open up. Two months is a very long time…you have to balance between lives and livelihood; it is time to now open up,” the Minister said in a statement on May 21, 2020.
Govt. For Affordable Air Fares
Earlier, the air carriers were updating the fares on their websites.
Now, the government takes control and has fixed the minimum and maximum prices to make air travel affordable.
“Earlier, air carriers could put their range (minimum to maximum) on their websites…We want air travel to become affordable. We have set a minimum fare and a maximum fare. For Delhi to Mumbai, the minimum fare will be Rs 3,500 and maximum Rs 10,000,” Puri said in a statement.
40 percent of all tickets in all bands will be priced less than the mid-range, and the fares decided for each band will not change until August 24, 2020.
“Airlines need to have the freedom to make their commercial decisions, including the pricing of airfares. Hence, we recognize and hope that this is a one-time measure as a result of Covid-19 and will be discontinued on August 24,” says Albert Tjoeng, IATA Assistant Director of Corporate Com for Asia-Pacific.
Air Travel and Social Distancing
“The central government hereby directs that domestic civil flight operations are permitted from May 25, 2020, to a limited extent. For operations from Metro to Metro cities, one-third capacity of the approved summer schedule,” the Ministry said in a statement on May 21, 2020.
According to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the first phase will see flights operating between 38 origin and 39 destination cities.
Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata have been identified as the cities to fall in the above category. The rules also apply to the metro to non-metric travel operations.
Social distancing will be followed at airports. But that will not make the case within the aircraft, as the middle seat will not be left vacant.
“Even though the government is saying they will scan each passenger, many of the travelers will not show any symptoms as almost 80% of people (Covid-19 patients) are asymptomatic,” says Lancelot Pinto, an epidemiologist at Mumbai’s Hinduja Hospital, pitching for social distancing measures.
To this, the Civil Aviation Ministry said it would not be possible to keep the middle seat vacant.
“This is not an option being followed by any other country as well. We will keep our fingers crossed,” Puri stated.
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