Covid-19: Government Contemplates Reducing Seating Capacity in Domestic Flights

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India has already surpassed Brazil in the cumulative number confirmed of coronavirus cases and is now the second worst-hit country globally after the United States. The cases registered by the states are on a continuous hike and hitting record highs almost daily. Amid this serious situation, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to reduce the capacity utilisation of domestic airlines to 60 percent from the current 80 percent in order to curb the spread of the virus.

According to a report by Moneycontrol,which cited a source saying that top officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of Indiaand the Civil Aviation Ministry may hold a meeting next week to come out with a decision in this regard. They are looking at both the safetyand the financial fair play angle before coming to a conclusionon reducing capacity utilisation in domestic flights.

Observing the increasing Covid-19 infections and seriousness of the issue, several states have already imposed regional lockdowns, curfews and other major curbs. These steps have also impacted the domestic passenger traffic in the last few weeks. Daily air passenger traffic has fallen below the 2,00,000 mark after touching a high of about 3,00,000 in February.

Airline representatives have sought financial assistance from the Centre in a meeting which was held earlier this week with Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola in order to deal with the second wave of coronavirus in the country. The representatives also requested to reduce in-flight capacity to 60 percent as the bookings have reduced by about 50 percent. The request to lower domestic passenger operational capacity is made for maintaining the status quo in market share.

Domestic flight operations commenced from May 25 after two months of the Covid-19 shutdownlast year.

Talking about the coronavirus cases, India’s total Covid caseload has surged to 1.45 crore with 2,34,692 fresh registries, which is the highest daily spike ever. 1,341 deaths have also been reported in the last 24 hours.

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