The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Thursday increased the upper and lower limit on domestic airfare by 10% to 30%. The ministry also said that the number of domestic flights that airlines would be permitted to operate will remain at 80% of their pre-Covid levels till March 31 or till the summer schedule begins.

In its order on Thursday, the ministry said the new limits would remain in force up to March 31, 2021, or until further instructions. On the airfare, the ministry placed limits through seven bands based on the flight duration. The first band comprises flights with a duration of under 40 minutes. The lower limit for the first category was increased from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,200, while the upper limit was raised to Rs 7,800 from Rs 6,000.

The subsequent bands are for flights with durations of 40 to 60 minutes, 60 to 90 minutes, 90 to 120 minutes, 120 to 150 minutes, 150 to 180 minutes, and 180 to 210 minutes. The new lower and upper limits for these bands are: Rs 2,800 and Rs 9,800, Rs 3,300 and Rs 11,700, Rs 3,900 and Rs 13,000, Rs 5,000 and Rs 16,900, Rs 6,100 and Rs 20,400, Rs 7,200 and Rs 24,200.

For instance, flights that have a duration between 90 and 120 minutes, the lower fare limit was increased from Rs 3,500 to Rs 3,900, while the maximum chargeable fare rose from Rs 10,000 to Rs 13,000.

The order was issued a day after Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the Rajya Sabha that the fixed fare bands for domestic flights cannot be permanent. He added that a cap on airfares will not be required when flights begin operating at full capacity.

The government had earlier imposed a cap on domestic airfare after flights resumed on May 25, following a two-month suspension of services because of the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Besides the increase in limits of airfares, the government had also grounded both domestic and international flights, as part of the countrywide lockdown. The Centre had allowed domestic flight services to resume on May 25, but at only one-third of its capacity. The cap was later increased to 45% and then to 60%. It was then gradually increased to 80%.