The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday decided to lift capacity restrictions on domestic airlines from October 18, Mint reported.

This means that airlines in India will be able to operate the number of domestic flights that they were allowed to run before the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, they are allowed to operate up to 85% of their pre-Covid domestic flights.

In March 2020, the Union government had grounded all domestic and international flights as part of a nationwide lockdown.

The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25 last year, but at only one-third of the airlines’ capacities. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%.

The order allowing airlines to operate up to 85% of their domestic services was passed on September 18.

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday said that it decided to lift capacity restrictions “after a review of the current status of scheduled domestic operations viz-a-viz passenger demand for air travel”, PTI reported.

Private airline IndiGo welcomed the Centre’s decision and said that it is “quite bullish” about the demand for domestic travel, according to the news agency.

“We believe that with recent pent-up demand combined with the upcoming festive season, it will be great to operate flights on pre-pandemic levels,” it said.

Another airline, Vistara, said that it believes the decision will help accelerate recovery from “the severe impacts of the pandemic”.

In the week that ended on October 9, the average number of daily air passengers increased to 2,62,000 from the previous week’s figure of 2,40,000, Mint reported, citing broking firm ICICI Securities.