Coming April: Implementation of New Aviation Policy

Mr. Rajiv Nayan Choubey (Civil Aviation Secretary) has said that the aviation policy is expected to be cleared by the cabinet by the end of March. Also the Aviation Ministry is expected to take decisions on the 5/20 Rule in the policy. Once the cabinet approves the aviation policy by the end of this month, the civil aviation ministry expects to implement the same by the beginning of the next fiscal year,  that is April 2016. The Union civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey says that he expects this much delayed aviation policy to be given a green signal by the cabinet by the end of the month. He also said that the implementation of the policy will begin from 1st April 2016. Adding to this he said that “We wish it takes less time but it is largely because of the comments received by diverse stakeholders”.

The new aviation policy was first presented in the month of November 2014 and then it was revised in October 2015 and was put up for public comments. The policy has seen some strong reactions from old airlines like Jet Airways (India) Ltd, IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Ltd), SpiceJet Ltd, GoAir and the newer ones like AirAsia and Vistara. The newer airlines want a relaxation in the policy that allows them to fly abroad while the older airlines are saying that this should not be allowed.

5 20 rule, civil aviation

The controversial 5/20 Rule says that an airline needs to fly 5 years in the domestic market and have a fleet of 20 aircraft before it can fly abroad. Civil aviation secretary has said that the government will see to it that no wrong is done to anyone and there would be a level playing field for all the airlines. The ministry has said that it is working on what the 5/20 Rule will be replaced with. The policy also proposes providing viability gap funding for airlines for regional connectivity, various tax sops and setting up of no-frills airports. The draft policy also proposes a cap on airfares at Rs.2500 for the flights of one-hour duration under the regional connectivity scheme for places that are not served currently and also the auctioning of international flying rights. At present these rights are granted on a reciprocal basis between two countries.

Mr. Choubey has also said that the new aviation policy will push regional connectivity, a thrust area for the Prime Minister. The Ministry along with the heads of state-owned carrier Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation briefed media on Wednesday regarding the benefits to the aviation sector from 2016 -17 budget. The Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju also said that there was a proposal under consideration for renaming the airports in the country after the city they are based in. The Terminals can be named after famous local or national personalities. If this proposal is cleared then Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport might be called Delhi International Airport and a terminal could retain the name of Indira Gandhi, Aviation minister said. There are two terminals at the Delhi Airport. Mr. Raju said that a second airport will be required in Delhi in the year 2022 as that is the time when the existing airport will reach its peak level of traffic. The government is bound with an agreement with the developer of the Delhi airport – GMR Infrastructure Ltd. This agreement states that a second airport will come up only when the existing airport reaches a certain threshold of traffic.

The Minister of state for aviation – Mahesh Sharma said that it would take five years to complete a new airport so the process will supposedly start soon. A proposal for developing an airport at Jewar near Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh is pending since many years. The ministers didn’t answer any question whether an announcement is likely ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, due next year. Union civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey also said that the sops announced in the budget for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) would win back a lot of business that was going to other countries. The business is worth around Rs.5000-6000 crore. He also added that “India is a tech hub. There is no reason why India should not be an MRO hub for Asia”.

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