The NDA government on Wednesday cleared India’s first ever civil aviation policy, which experts believe will see considerable improvement in on regional connectivity, cargo, maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) and skill development.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted, “NDA govt clears India’s first ever integrated National Civil Aviation Policy. This will be a game-changer for the sector as airlines no longer need to wait for five years before starting international operations.”
“Any domestic airline can start international operations if it puts higher of 20 aircraft or 20 percent of total capacity on domestic routes. Now, the domestic airlines will not require prior approval before entering into international code share agreements,” he said.
Raju said that the objective was to make flying affordable, safe and convenient; promote balanced regional growth, tourism, infrastructure and ease of doing business.
He said, “India will be the third largest civil aviation market by 2022 and to achieve this, we need right intentions, vision, planning and execution.”
He was also quoted by ANI as saying, “Our middle class is 35 crores, while air passengers are only eight crores per year. Average Indian thus flies only once in 4-5 years. There is a tremendous scope for growth, which we will achieve through suitable policy measures.”
According to new policy, passengers will now have to pay just Rs 2500 for a journey lasting not more than one hour. The passengers will be entitled for 15 kgs of check-in luggage and they will have to pay not more than Rs 100 per kg towards excess baggage charge.
The airlines will have to process refund as a result of cancellation within 15 days.
“The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) will to revive unserved airports and routes in Tier II and III cities. Fares on RCS routes to be Rs 2,500 per hour and the balance would be provided by the government through transparent VGF mechanism,” he added.
India will open skies on reciprocal basis for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations and countries beyond 5,000 km and the method of allotment of our un-used bilateral capacity to be recommended by a committee under the Cabinet Secretary, he said.
Under the new policy, development of greenfield and brownfield airports by the state governments, private sector or in Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode will be encouraged.
Four heli-hubs will be developed and helicopter emergency medical services will also be made available.
Raju said the centre-piece of the policy is the BJP manifesto’s promise of regional connectivity.
Moreover, under the new policy, domestic airlines will be permitted self ground-handling at all airports to ensure competition and efficiency.
“The cargo volume is also expected to increase four folds to 10 million by 2027,” he said.
In June 2006 the then aviation minister Praful Patel had informed that “the draft civil aviation policy is ready and could be taken up by the Union Cabinet for approval this month itself.”
He, however, could not bring it despite the UPA being in power for next 8 more years.