One check-in bag to fare control: Govt issues guidelines for domestic flight operations from May 25


NEW DELHI, May 21: A day after announcing resumption of domestic commercial passenger flights from May 25, the Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday issued detailed guidelines for airlines, airports, passengers and other stakeholders.
The ministry said it will prescribe lower and upper limit on air fares and airlines will have to adhere to it "during the period of COVID-19 pandemic".
"On the day of commencement (May 25), limited operations (about one-third) would be permitted," it said.
It said passengers will have to report at airport two hours prior to their flight's scheduled departure time and only those who have done web check-in will be allowed to enter the terminal building.
Only one check-in bag would be allowed and airlines will not provide any meal services in flights, the ministry said.
Boarding for a flight will commence 60 minutes before departure and boarding gate will be closed 20 minutes before departure, it said.
All scheduled commercial passenger flight operations have been suspended since March 25, when the Modi government announced the nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had announced on Wednesday that domestic flights will resume from May 25 in a calibrated manner.
The subsequent bands from the second to the seventh would be of flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes, 120-150 minutes, 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes respectively, he told a press conference. However, Puri did not say what would be the upper limit and lower limit fares, and when would airlines be able to open their bookings for domestic flights.
Aviation Secretary P S Kharola, who was also present at the press conference, said 40 per cent of the seats would have to be sold at the mid-point of the lower and upper air fare limits set for the flights.
Puri said he can't comment right now on when flight operations would be restored completely.
"We gained some experience from Vande Bharat mission. Now we are opening 1/3rd of our domestic civil aviation operations. Whatever experience we gain now, on that basis we would then go to open international travel," he said.
If a passenger does not have the AarogyaSetu app on her or his phone for some reason, they can give a self-declaration form, the minister said, adding that they will not be stopped from boarding the flight.
The minister added that private carriers will join the Vande Bharat mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic. Puri said by the end of the month, total 50,000 Indians would be brought back from abroad under the mission.
The Vande Bharat mission began on May 7. Till date, only Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express have been operating flights under this mission.
Domestic flight operations will resume in India from May 25. All commercial passenger flights were suspended in the country from March 25, when the Modi government imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

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