Limited Period Offer:Be a PRO for 1 month @Rs49/-Multiple payment options available. Know More
you are here: HomeNewsTrends

Govt mulls reducing seating capacity in domestic flights amid sharp spike in COVID-19 cases

Top officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, and the Civil Aviation Ministry are likely to meet next week to come out with a decision, the source said.

April 16, 2021 / 06:23 PM IST
Representative image

Representative image

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is looking into the proposal to cut capacity utilisation of domestic airlines to 60 percent if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, sources in the Ministry told Moneycontrol.

Top officials from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, and the Civil Aviation Ministry are likely to meet next week to come out with a decision, the source said.

“We are looking at both the safety angle and the financial fair play angle before making a decision on reducing capacity utilisation in domestic flights,” the source said.

Currently, airlines are allowed to operate at 80 percent capacity utilisation.

The source added that the surge in COVID-19 cases in major cities in the country coupled with regional lockdowns, curfews, and restrictions has already led to passenger traffic falling in the past two weeks.

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

After touching a high of about 300,000 in February, daily air passenger traffic has come below the 200,000-mark.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India rose to 1.42 crore on March 16, with 217,353 new cases reported in the past 24 hours.

The government had last year reopened the commencement of domestic flight operations from May 25 after two months of COVID-19 shutdown. Since then the government has gradually eased the limit on fleet capacity from 33 percent to 45 percent, 70 percent, and then 80 percent from December.

Earlier this week, airline representatives at a meeting with Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola demanded a financial assistance package from the Centre to deal with the second COVID-19 wave.

Airlines also urged the Centre to consider a reduction of flight capacity from 80 percent to 60 percent as bookings have fallen by as much as 50 percent.

In 2020-21 (Apr-Mar), India’s domestic air traffic had reduced to around three crore passenger in April to December compared to around 10.8 crore passengers in April to December in 2019-20.

The number of international passengers also dropped to around 55.9 lakh from 5.21 crore in April-December 2020 compared to the same period a year ago.

This led to losses of Rs 16,000 crore for Indian carriers, while airports lost approximately Rs 3,000 crore.

The call from airlines to lower the cap for domestic operational capacity comes to help maintain the status quo in market share.

As some of the bigger airlines, mainly IndiGo, are more financially capable to hold on to their capacity, than others.

For instance, if IndiGo continues to deploy 70 or 80 percent of its capacity, while others are forced to bring down theirs to 50 percent to reduce cash burn, India's biggest airline will keep getting even bigger at the cost of smaller ones.
Yaruqhullah Khan
first published: Apr 16, 2021 06:23 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections