Domestic airlines now can operate passenger flights without capacity restrictions – meaning they can now book 100 per cent of all available seats – the Civil Aviation Ministry said Tuesday.
The new order comes into effect from Monday, October 18.
Airlines and airport operators must, however, the ministry said, “ensure guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19 are strictly adhered to and Covid-appropriate behaviour is strictly enforced”.
The ministry said capacity restrictions had been removed after a review of the demand for air travel.
On October 9, Indian airlines operated 2,340 domestic flights, or 71.5 per cent of their combined pre-COVID capacity.
In September the government had increased capacity restrictions from 72.5 per cent to 85 per cent.
The government resumed domestic flight operations in May last year after a two-month break.
Airlines were initially allowed to operate a maximum of 33 per cent of all pre-Covid routes.
That cap was gradually increased to 80 per cent by December last year.
Occupancy rates, however, were reduced to 50 per cent in June this year after the country was battered by a second wave of infections and deaths.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said the decision had been taken “in view of the sudden surge in the number of active COVID-19 cases… decrease in passenger traffic and the passenger load…”
As caseloads stabilised the cap was increased to 65 per cent and then to 72.5 per cent in August.