Govt allows 7.5% more domestic flights

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NEW DELHI: The government has allowed airlines to operate marginally more — 7.5% to be precise — domestic flights. Airlines can now operate 72.5% of their pre-Covid domestic capacity, up from 65% allowed on July 5, 2021.
During the pandemic, the aviation ministry has been regulating both domestic fares and capacity that are tweaked as per the Covid situation. With that, the second wave ebbing, the domestic capacity — reduced from 80% of pre-Covid to 50% on June 1 — was first increased to 65% on July 5 and now to 72.5%.
The entire travel industry, including airlines and hotels, realise that their survival rests on domestic travelers as international travel could take a long time to open up both ways — Indian tourists being allowed in most countries and foreign tourists being allowed into India. This fact is recognised by government agencies too.
For instance, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority’s consultation paper on Hyderabad Airport (HIAL) tariff says: “The authority has looked into the traffic trends at HIAL and observes that the traffic at Hyderabad Airport is dominated by domestic segment (about 81% of the total traffic over the last five years was domestic passengers). The authority is of the opinion that post-pandemic recovery of traffic at the Hyderabad Airport would be led by domestic segment and that it may recover at a faster growth rate than other major airports which tend to have a higher share of international traffic.”
While the norms for international travel will be set by individual countries differently for visitors from other countries depending on the pandemic situation in each place, the travel industry has been seeking uniform norms for domestic travel. Industry leaders say RT-PCR testing requirements should be done away for domestic travel for the fully-vaccinated uniformly across the country.
“As of now, there are different rules for traveling from one Indian state to another. This confuses travelers and many therefore decide to defer non-essential travel. There should be one rule — no RT-PCR testing needed if fully vaccinated — for domestic travel. This single step will have a multiplier effect on travel,” said a hotelier.

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