India Fixes Price Bands For Airfares As Flying Resumes From May 25
Workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the novel coronavirus at Gimpo Airport in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo: Bloomberg)

India Fixes Price Bands For Airfares As Flying Resumes From May 25

India has prescribed price bands for airfares along with other rules as the airlines resume operations starting May 25, two months after the nation ordered the world’s strictest lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ministry studied existing rates and looked at corresponding rail fares before arriving at “realistic” minimum and maximum fares, said Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. “We have taken into the account that airlines operate on thin margins and their business models are based on high capital costs.”

The airfares will be categorised in seven bands based on the duration of flight. The band for Delhi-Mumbai, a journey of 90-120 minutes, will be Rs 3,500-10,000, Puri said.

According to a statement by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation released in the day, the fares range between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,000 depending on the duration of the flight.

  • Section 1— Duration below 40 minutes: Rs 2,000-6,000
  • Section 2—40-60 minutes: Rs 2,500- 7,500
  • Section 3—60-90 minutes: Rs 3,000-9,000
  • Section 4—90-120 minutes: Rs 3,500-10,000
  • Section 5—2-2.5 hours: Rs 4,500-13,000
  • Section 6—2.5-3 hours: Rs 5,500-15,700
  • Section 7—3-3.5 hours: Rs 6,500-18,600

Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola, during the conference, said 40 percent of the seats have to be sold at a fare less than the mid-point of the recommended band.

That means, in the case of the Delhi-Mumbai route, 40 percent of the seats will have to be sold for less than Rs 6,700. These recommended fares exclude passenger services fees, user development fees and goods and services tax, Kharola added.

Airlines are among the worst hit businesses as the world’s biggest lockdown led to cash flows drying up. India suspended all flights on March 25 when the government first imposed stay-at-home restrictions to prevent spreading of the coronavirus. It plans to reopen skies despite emerging as a nation where infections are spreading at the fastest pace in Asia.

But flyers and cabin crew will have to conform to a new normal that calls for disallowing newspapers and magazines inside terminal and lounges to wearing full protective gear.

For Passengers

  • Need to arrive at the airport two hours in advance of flight time
  • Only those who have departures in the next four hours or less will be allowed inside the terminal building with protective gear such as face masks and gloves.
  • Boarding and disembarkation in batches as per seating arrangements in the aircraft to avoid crisscrossing inside the carrier
  • Passengers will be seated in a manner so as to maintain social distancing such as by blocking those seats that are not to be used with proper markers or tapes.
  • The passengers are expected to certify the status of their health through the Aarogya Setu app or a self-declaration form.
  • Those with “red” status on Aarogya Setu App won’t be permitted to travel
  • In case of non-availability of Aarogya Setu, the passenger should be facilitated to go a counter provided by the airport where it can be downloaded
  • Initially, passengers will be entitled to carry maximum one hand baggage and one check-in baggage as per the specifications by the airline.
  • Vulnerable persons such as very elderly, pregnant ladies, passengers with health issues are advised to avoid air travel.
  • No physical check-in at airport counters will be done. Only those passengers with confirmed web check-in shall be allowed to enter the airport.
  • Before entering the terminal, passengers will have to wear face masks and gloves. They will have to collect fresh safety kit—three-layered surgical masks, face shield and sanitiser—from near the boarding gate. They will have to wear mask, face shield and sanitise their hands before proceeding to the boarding gate for scanning of the boarding pass.
  • The passenger shall not travel if he/she is staying in a containment zone. Also, they should not travel if they have been tested positive for Covid-19.
  • The airlines shall ensue that the boarding pass is issued only after the declaration is given by the passenger.
  • If a passenger who is not permitted to fly, undertakes an air journey he/she shall be liable for penal action.
  • No meal services will be made available in the aircraft. Water bottle to be made available in the galley area or on the seats.
  • Passengers will not be permitted to consume any eatables during the journey.

Airport & Cabin Crew

  • Cabin crew are required to wear PPE suits, including full-body gown, shoe cover, mask and gloves.
  • Only personal vehicles or select authorised taxi services or transport services with restricted seating will be permitted to enter the airport.
  • Use of trolleys is discouraged in departure and arrival area, and all luggage will be sanitised by the airport operator before entering the terminal building as well as in the baggage break-up area before putting it on conveyor belt.
  • All airports will have mats or carpets soaked with bleach (sodium hypochlorite solution) placed at entrance for disinfecting shoes.
  • Use of open-air ventilation wherever possible instead of central air-conditioning and in cases where it is unavoidable, ensuring change in air circulation every few hours along with the change of air-filters.
  • Ensure social distancing markings/stickers at a distance of not less than 1 meter at appropriate places.
  • The airports have been asked to provide counters mounted with a glass or perspex/plexiglass sheet, with a corner having magnifying area to check the flight ticket/boarding card and identification documents at multiple touch points of interaction with the passengers. This will be done in areas such as airline check-in counters and security check-ins, among others.
  • In case the same is not feasible, the personnel concerned should wear a transparent face shield behind a counter to provide physical barrier.
  • Disinfect surfaces /touch points every 30 minutes.

Other Norms

  • A separate de-gowning area for airline crew and medical personnel to divest and dispose person protective equipment.
  • All food and beverage and retail outlets to be opened with precautions.
  • Hand santisers available at various locations for passengers and for airport staff.
  • Information regarding social distancing, personal protection, Dos and Dont’s should be displayed in flight information display systems and other display boards, apart from required number of standees and posters at frequent locations.
  • Social distance markings, tensor barriers (queue managers) and separated seating in area before security to avoid crowding and queuing.
  • On the day of commencement, one third operations will be permitted. Further augmentation of flights will be done in a calibrated manner.
  • Airlines should adhere to the lower and upper limits of fares prescribed by the Ministry during the period of Covid-19 pandemic.
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