Airfare caps to stay till business holds steady for a quarter

NEW DELHI: Domestic fare caps will continue till air traffic within the country holds steady for a quarter and aviation turbine fuel (ATF/jet fuel) prices fall from their current stratospheric levels. Union aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Wednesday said these caps – last remaining special pandemic-time measures, apart from face masks and enhanced hygiene – are being continued to protect consumers from high spot fares and airlines from predatory pricing. Scindia said, “Air traffic has been reviving steadily after we removed all capacity caps.

However, ATF prices are at all-time highs. I have persuaded states to cut tax on jet fuel but the same is yet to happen at big hubs of Delhi and Mumbai. Cutting excise on ATF is under finmin’s consideration. Till air traffic remains steadily healthy for a quarter and fuel prices fall, domestic fare caps will continue.”

The minister was recently in the US and Canada, where apart from aerospace majors like Boeing and Airbus, he turned his focus on Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) craft for urban mobility. “I have invited eVTOL tech providers, including BLADE that has a JV in India, to come here and explore setting up of manufacturing units both for use in India as well as for exporting to rest of Asia from here, to study routes here and the infra required in terms of charging stations. They have shown tremendous interest.”

Blade India MD & co-founder Amit Dutta, who heads the urban air mobility task force for CII, told TOI that Scindia has invited BLADE to launch electric vertical craft simultaneously in the US and India in early 2024 (expected launch date after getting all FAA and EASA approvals).

“The Blade team will come here again in July and I will be speaking to other electric vertical craft (EVA) makers in the US to do the same. They will examine climatic conditions here and the regulatory framework,” Dutta said. In a presentation made to the aviation ministry, Dutta has said India’s road network has increased by 33%, while car registration is up by 300%.

“Given the congestion in cities and limited place to extend roads, air taxis and sky taxis are the future,” Dutta, who is headed to New York next week to make the government’s vision for EVA a reality, said. Scindia is learnt to have told EVA makers in US and Canada that India presents a unique opportunity, given the focus on improving urban mobility through all possible means of transport, with flying taxis being the future. “They are all very excited about India,” Dutta said.