After deciding to resume the domestic air services from May 25, the government has now issued an order giving instructions about airfares that could be beneficial both for airlines and passengers.

According to the government document released on Thursday, there is going to be a lower and upper price limit on airfares on domestic flights.

Price capping to balance affordability and business

As airlines are now allowed to only fly one-third of their total scheduled flights, the new pricing regulation would seek to balance that passengers can afford air tickets and at the same time airlines do not incur huge losses as they fly less than their full capacity to ensure social distancing.

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A SpiceJet Airlines plane at Bengaluru airportReuters file

"We have studied this (airfares). We have looked at corresponding rail fares. Right from the start, our objective has been that air travel should become affordable for all our citizens. I think we have set a realistic figure both in terms of the lower and upper level. Affordability is one criterion; we are equally conscious of the fact that airlines operate on thin margins and that business models are based on high capital costs, and that they have costs because of aviation turbine fuel; we are trying to deal with all those things," Hardeep Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, said on Thursday, The Hindu Businessline reported.

Pricing on the basis routes duration

Depending on flight routes and duration, the government has divided ticket pricing into seven sections- starting with flights of the duration of fewer than 40 minutes in the first section, and 180-210 minutes of flight duration in the seventh section.

"These seven sections cover most of the domestic flights that will be operated. So, say, on the Delhi-Mumbai sector, which is the busiest, the minimum fare will be ₹3,500 and the maximum ₹10,000," the minister said.

Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Civil Aviation Minster
Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Civil Aviation MinsterCredit: Reuters

As per these guidelines, the cheapest domestic flight ticket will be for Rs 2000 and the most expensive will be for Rs 18,600. The price cap would be applicable for all domestic flights until 23:59 hrs, August 24.

Here's is the list of the seven sections-and the minimum and maximum airfare bands.

  1. Less than 40 min: Minimum Rs 2000 and Maximum Rs 6000
  2. 40-60 min: Minimum Rs 2500 and Maximum Rs 7500
  3. 60-90 min: Minimum Rs 3000 and Maximum Rs 9000
  4. 90-120 min: Minimum Rs 3500 and Maximum Rs 10000
  5. 120-150 min: Minimum Rs 4500 and Maximum Rs 13000
  6. 150-180 min: Minimum Rs 5500 and Maximum Rs 15700
  7. 180-210 min: Minimum Rs 6500 and Maximum Rs 18600

Capped prices exclude taxes 

These prices are for economy class and do not include User development fees (UDF), passenger service fee (PSF), and goods and services tax (GST).

The government has also instructed the airlines to sell 40% of the tickets of a particular flight below the mean average of minimum and maximum fares on that route.

"This is being done to ensure that fares do not go out of control and are reasonable for airlines also," Pradeep Kharola, Secretary, Civil Aviation, said.

Domestic flights were suspended due to lockdown

The domestic airlines have been grounded since the first phase of the lockdown was announced on March 25. Now, the government has decided to exit the lockdown in a phased manner. In this regard, the government allowed domestic flights to resume operation from May 25, but have been ordered to fly just one-third of their total scheduled flights.

Bookings for the flights starting from May 25 were supposed to begin from Thursday midnight.

In fact, Indigo has opened up the booking on its website.