India allows domestic airlines to fly at full capacity

Ministry of Civil Aviation’s order allowing 100% capacity utilisation will go into effect on October 18.

As a prelude to the full reopening of international air travel into and out of India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has allowed airlines to fly on domestic routes at full capacity.

At the height of the second wave of Covid-19 infections, India had limited domestic flights to operate at 50 per cent of their capacity in June, but has been gradually increasing seat utilisation as infections fell in subsequent months.

The Ministry’s order allowing 100 per cent capacity utilisation will go into effect on October 18 and coincide with a season of festivals in India. The Ministry has repeatedly cited non-availability of seats on domestic flights as one of the reasons for not resuming regular, scheduled international flights into India.

Passengers arriving at internationals airports from abroad would be stranded without adequate domestic connections, it was reasoned. International flights into and out of India were suspended in March last year when India imposed a total lockdown to contain the initial onset of the pandemic.

These were replaced by temporary ‘air bubble’ arrangements with more than two dozen countries pending resumption of normal flights.

“The airlines/airport operators shall, however, ensure that the guidelines to contain the spread of Covid-19 are strictly adhered to and Covid-appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced,” the ministry said in today’s order.

Last week, India announced a phased resumption of tourist visas for foreigners. Those arriving on charters flights will be given tourist visas from October 15 and others arriving on non-charter flights can get tourist visas from November 15.

This decision by the Ministry of Home Affairs is also expected to pave the way for a resumption of regular, scheduled flights and boost seat use of domestic flights.

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