The government on Monday said decisions regarding domestic scheduled flight operations and relaxation in fare capping are subject to prevailing coronavirus situation, status of operations and passenger demand for air travel.
Fare bands are in force for airlines, while the capacity restriction on domestic flight operations was done away with from October 18, 2021.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh said that during the past two years, the coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected the revenue streams of businesses, including the aviation sector.
“Under normal circumstances, airfares are neither established nor regulated by the government. However, due to the unprecedented circumstances, fare bands with upper and lower limits were introduced by the government as a special measure.
“The fare bands serve the dual purpose of protecting the interests of the travellers as well as of the airlines,” he told Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
He noted that fare bands were revised from time to time in view of a substantial hike in the price of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) in order to keep the aviation sector viable while protecting the interests of the passengers.
Currently, fare capping is applicable on a rolling basis for a 15-day cycle, and the minister said the government regularly reviews the situation.
“Decisions regarding the domestic scheduled operations and relaxation in fare capping is subject to prevailing COVID-19 situation, status of operations and passenger demand for air travel,” he said.
In a separate written reply, Singh said the losses suffered by Air India and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for fiscal 2020-21 during the COVID-19 period stood at Rs 7,083.91 crore and Rs 2,767.01 crore, respectively.
“No separate assessment has been made for losses on account of suspension of international flights,” he said.
Scheduled international commercial passenger flights remain suspended since March 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Regarding regional connectivity scheme UDAN, Singh said the scheme has transformed the way people travel in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, adding that regional airports like Jharsuguda, Kishangarh, Belgaum and Darbhanga have been witnessing exponential growth in air traffic.
“Till date, out of 948 valid routes, 403 routes involving 65 airports (including eight heliports and two water aerodromes) have been operationalised across the country under UDAN.
“Approximately 86.05 lakh passengers have travelled on UDAN flights since its commencement till January 9, 2022,” the minister said in another written reply.
UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) was launched on October 21, 2016, to stimulate regional air connectivity and make air travel affordable to the masses scheme.
“The linkage between the civil aviation sector and economic growth is well recognised. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) study shows that the air connectivity has an economic multiplier of 3.1 and employment multiplier of 6.1,” Singh said.