Winter 2020 to begin with 44% fewer domestic flights than last year

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NEW DELHI: The winter schedule for flights, which comes into effect Sunday, will begin with 44% less domestic connectivity than last winter.
The government has currently capped domestic flights at 60% of the originally approved summer schedule in the pandemic. Accordingly, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has cleared a schedule for 12,983 weekly domestic flights covering 95 airports in winter 2020-21 — down 44.3% from 23,307 in winter 2019-20.
The cap on flights is likely to be raised to 75% shortly as air travel is showing signs of revival. As that happens, the domestic schedule will keep getting enhanced, meaning there will be more flights.

The schedule, approved with the current cap of 60%, has seen maximum drop in weekly domestic flights of SpiceJet — 1,957, down 55% from 4,316 last winter. This is followed by Air India — 1,126, down 50% from last winter’s 2,254; GoAir — 1,203, down 48% from 2,308; IndiGo — 6,006, down 42% from 10,310.
A senior DGCA official said, “The schedule has been approved for Indian scheduled operators at 60% of the capacity as directed by the aviation ministry.”
The current pecking order for top 3 airlines in terms of weekly flights is: IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India group (AI plus Alliance Air together at 1,736). The two Tata Group airlines — Vistara (852) and AirAsia India (885) — together are neck-to-neck with AI group with 1,737 weekly flights.

The Tata Group is likely to fully acquire AirAsia India by buying out the 49% stake of its Malaysian JV partner. Whether it keeps this airline as a standalone budget carrier or merges it with Vistara remains to be seen.
Vistara, incidentally, is considered the best bet for Air India’s potential buyer. The three airlines together — AI plus Vistara + AirAsia India — could create an Indian airline with strong domestic and international network across North America, Europe, Gulf, neighbouring countries and far east, right up to Australia.
Meanwhile, the list of 95 airports which will get schedule domestic flights in winter shows Gujarat has the maximum cities linked by air at nine. It is followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra at eight each. Assam, Tamil Nadu, UP and Rajasthan have six cities each.
Schedule domestic flights were suspended on March 25 due to the pandemic. They were allowed to resume two months later on May 25 in a phased manner with airlines initially allowed to operate one-third (33%) of their capacity on domestic sectors. Currently, airlines are allowed to operate up to 60% of the available capacity during summer schedule 2020.



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