DGCA Asks SpiceJet To Stop Ticket Sale Offer
A SpiceJet Ltd. aircraft stands at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg)

DGCA Asks SpiceJet To Stop Ticket Sale Offer

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Aviation regulator DGCA has asked SpiceJet Ltd. to stop its five-day discounted sale of tickets that started on Monday as the government-imposed fare limits are in place since domestic flights resumed operation on May 25, senior officials said.

SpiceJet in a press release on Monday morning announced it has started a five-day "1+1 offer sale" where it was offering one-way base fares starting as low as Rs 899, excluding taxes, on its domestic network.

The release said the customers booking a ticket during the sale will get a complimentary voucher with a maximum value of Rs 2,000 per booking, which can be used for future bookings.

Pointing to the government-imposed fare limits, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation asked SpiceJet to stop the sale, senior officials of the regulator said Monday afternoon.

When asked about it, a SpiceJet spokesperson said, "We have already complied with the DGCA directive."

The Civil Aviation Ministry had on May 21 placed upper and lower limits on domestic airfares through seven bands, classified on the basis of flight duration, till Aug. 24. Later, it was extended till Nov. 24.

Scheduled domestic passenger services resumed on May 25 after nearly two months of suspension to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23.

Along with the limits on airfares, the government had asked the airlines to operate not more than 33% of their pre-Covid domestic flights. On June 26, the cap was increased to 45%.

After Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced on May 21 that there would be limits on airfares till Aug. 24, the DGCA had issued an order with more details.

The regulator had said there would be seven bands of ticket pricing with lower and upper fare limits based on flight duration.

The first such band consists of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. The lower and the upper fare limits for the first band is Rs 2,000 and Rs 6,000, respectively.

The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes.

The lower and upper limits for these bands are: Rs 2,500-Rs 7,500; Rs 3,000-Rs 9,000; Rs 3,500-Rs 10,000; Rs 4,500-Rs 13,000; Rs 5,500-Rs 15,700 and Rs 6,500-Rs 18,600, respectively, the DGCA said.

The regulator had made it clear that each airline would sell at least 40% of its tickets on a flight at prices less than the midpoint between the lower limit and upper limit.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

All airlines in India have taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave without pay and firings of employees in order to conserve cash.

Occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights has been around just 50-60% since May 25.

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