The number of daily air passengers is expected to cross pre-COVID levels in the next two months, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Monday and also urged states to reduce tax on jet fuel to boost the country’s aviation sector.
During the pre-COVID times, domestic airlines carried around 4 lakh passengers per day and the number began climbing up after second wave but again declined after the emergence of Omicron infections late last year.
Scindia said capacity and fare caps were put in place to make sure that there was a "little bit of an insulated environment in which the industry can function to ensure that all our players survive and all of them get some decent market share and some levels of revenue".
Airlines were allowed to operate at full capacity from October 18, 2021.
“In November, December, we started hitting numbers of 3.8 to 3.9 lakh passengers per day. We were almost back to pre-COVID levels… with Omicron, number of travellers tanked… we fell to 1.6 lakh per day. So we had a contraction of about 65-70 per cent,” the minister said.
"In the last 5 months, 12 states and Union Territories have reduced VAT from 25-30 per cent down to 1-4 per cent, including Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka…,” he said, adding that now 24 states and Union Territories have cut the VAT on jet fuel.
Regarding drones, Scindia said an investment of around Rs 5,000 crore is being looked at in the manufacturing space while the drone services space is expected to see Rs 30,000 crore revenue in 5 to 6 years.
The minister has set up nine advisory groups to discuss ways to bolster various areas of the civil aviation sector, including Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO).
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