Airlines can operate only 50 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights from June 1 instead of 80 per cent permitted currently, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Friday.
The decision has been taken "in view of the sudden surge in the number of active COVID-19 cases across the country, decrease in passenger traffic and passenger load factor (occupancy rate)", the ministry said in an order.
The government also has extended the ban on international commercial flights till 30 June, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a circular on Friday. The ban on scheduled overseas flights was to end on 31 May after a 14-month gap.
Dedicated cargo flights, flights under the bilateral air bubble pacts with select countries will continue to operate, the civil aviation watchdog said.
India currently has bilateral air bubble agreement with about 28 countries, which include countries such as Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, the Maldives, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, Uzbekistan and the US.
When the government had resumed scheduled domestic flights in India on May 25 last year after a two-month-long break, the ministry had permitted the carriers to operate not more than 33 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic services.
This cap was gradually increased to up to 80 per cent by December last year.
On Friday, the Civil Aviation Ministry reduced the cap from 80 per cent to 50 per cent. This reduction will come into effect from June 1, it said.