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Government To Cap Air Fares In New Order For Domestic Air Travel

by Amitabh Joshi 11 months ago Views 1347

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The government will regulate air fares when domestic flights resume on May 25. At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, the Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, said 30 % operations will begin in the calibrated resumption. He reiterated that middle seats on aircraft will not be kept empty. "We have divided routes in seven sections for fare control", Puri said. Fare structure will not be on market basis for now, he added. The Aviation Secretary said that on the Delhi-Mumbai route, the upper limit for the fare would be Rs 10,000.

 


The order on COVID-19 guidelines and fare base will remain in force till 11.59 pm on 24th August. The division of the seven routes for the entire country will be: Flight time less than 40 minutes; 40 - 60 minutes; 60 - 90 minutes; 90 - 120 minutes; 120 - 150 minutes;150 - 180 minutes and 180 - 210 minutes.

The Airports Authority of India earlier on Thursday released its Standard Operating Procedure for flyers, when graded operations begin next Moday, which outlined that:

  • Mandatory Thermal screening
  • All passengers have to wear masks and gloves
  • Health status (Revised): No entry if 'Red' status on Aarogya Setu app. Self declaration form option also allowed.
  • Passenger seating arrangement in airports configured to maintain social distancing among passengers.
  • Airline and other counters will manned by staff with face shields or Plexiglas
  • Check-in counters will be opened well in advance to stagger crowds.
  • Luggage will have to be sanitised
  • Passengers will de-board planes in batches.
  • All airport staff to have and sanitisers and PPEs under MHA guidelines.
  • All cabin crew will have to wear full protective gear.
  • In addition there will only be web-check in and only one check in baggage allowed 

So there we have it. A new age in commercial aviation. The Civil Aviation Minister had already indicated on Wednesday that leaving middle seats empty on aircraft to ensure social distancing is not viable. In any case, leaving a seat empty in between does not meet the requirement of physical distancing. Not to mention airlines will lose 33% air fare revenue if it would be enforced.

(A scene you'll not see for a long time to come)

As lockdowns ease, world aviation bodies are calling on governments to ensure any new measures introduced for airports and airlines in the wake of COVID-19 are supported by scientific evidence and are consistent across the world.

“Airports and airlines have come together with ICAO and the wider aviation industry to address the biggest challenge ever faced by commercial aviation in restarting a global industry while continuing to halt the spread of COVID-19,” Airports Council International (ACI) World Director General Angela Gittens said.

“There is currently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel but we believe a globally-consistent, outcome-based approach represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel”, she added.

Amid the pandemic panic, there has been a disproportionate scare around air travel.

“It is important to remember that the risk of transmission on board is very low. And we are determined that aviation will not be a significant source of re-infection. We are working continuously with governments to ensure that any measures put in place are done so consistently and with scientific backing. That is key to restoring public confidence so the benefits of safely re-starting aviation can be realized”, said International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

In contrast to ruling out leaving middle seats empty on aircraft as indicated by India’s Civil Aviation Ministry, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has taken a different approach. “Where allowed by the passenger load, cabin configuration and mass and balance requirements, airlines should ensure, to the extent possible, physical distancing among passengers. Family members and individuals travelling together as part of the same household can be seated next to each other”, the agency said in a statement released on Thursday.

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