Airlines will have to follow ticket price guidelines issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry when they restart some domestic flights, two months after air travel was halted to fight the novel coronavirus, the government said on Thursday. A Delhi-Mumbai flight ticket will have to be priced between Rs 3,500 and 10,000 for the next three months, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
“Flight durations have been divided in 7 categories – 0-30 minutes, 30-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes, and 180-210 minutes…. For example, the minimum fare for a Delhi-Mumbai flight will be Rs.3,500 and the maximum fare will be Rs 10,000. This will be applicable for three months,” he said.
The minister also said that 40 per cent of the seats on a flight must be priced less than 50 per cent of the price band – Rs 6,700 for the Delhi-Mumbai route.
Airlines will be allowed to resume about a third of their operations from Monday, within rules that include no meals on board, temperature checks for all passengers and full protective gear for crew, the government said.
The minister refuted reports of special social distancing measures onboard flights, saying, “At the moment, the decision has been taken that the middle seat will not be left vacant.”
The gradual opening up of air travel comes as India’s cases of coronavirus crossed 1.12 lakh, according to the Health Ministry, increasing 5,609 over the previous day – one of the highest single-day rises in recent weeks. Deaths stood at 3,435.
The infections are largely concentrated in the big cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad that are also the economy’s engines and transport hubs.
Airlines including IndiGo, the country’s largest carrier by market share, its rival SpiceJet Ltd, full-service carrier Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines and state-run Air India were forced to ground planes from March 25.
The civil aviation ministry also said passengers who are not allowed to travel due to their health or age should be allowed to change their date of travel without a penalty.
All passengers must register on Aarogya Setu, the government’s coronavirus tracing application, if their mobile device is compatible, or submit a declaration form saying they are fit to travel, have not been quarantined and do not live in a containment or so-called virus red zone.
“Passengers with ‘Red’ status on the Aarogya Setu app would not be permitted to travel,” the ministry said.
Passengers will also have to report to the airport two hours before the flight and only web check-ins will be allowed.
(With inputs from Reuters)