Airlines unhappy with draft cabinet note on new flying norms, see no big change

Experts have said the new norms are complex and needlessly try to link domestic connectivity with overseas flying.

Sindhu Bhattacharya April 09, 2015 15:06:14 IST
Airlines unhappy with draft cabinet note on new flying norms, see no big change

New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has begun inter-ministerial consultations on the new flying norms by circulating a draft cabinet note. These new norms seek to dismantle the 5/20 norms, they also seek to tighten the screws for airlines unwilling to fly to remote domestic locations by linking overseas flying rights to domestic connectivity.

Airlines unhappy with draft cabinet note on new flying norms see no big change

New flying norms soon. Reuters

Ministry officials say these norms will ensure remote area connectivity without such flights impacting airlines' bottomlines. But neither existing nor new airlines are happy with these norms. Existing airlines like Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir have asked the government to keep the 5/20 condition for new airlines wanting to fly abroad. New entrants Vistara and AirAsia India want 5/20 dismantled but are unhappy with the norms being brought in as replacement since these pushes back their plans to fly overseas by at least two years.

These norms will mean new airlines won't have to wait for five years nor spend large sums in building up a fleet of 20 aircraft before becoming eligible to fly abroad. But they will have to get enough Domestic Flying Credits by mounting flights to areas like the North East. They become eligible to fly only after 300 crore DFCs are earned and this will take up to two years. Also, initially new airlines are not permitted to fly to destinations within six hours. This which means lucrative Gulf routes and connections to neighbouring hubs like Singapore are ruled out.

Experts have said the new norms are complex and needlessly try to link domestic connectivity with overseas flying.

The six-hour limit for new airlines is a new addition to the proposal. A senior ministry official explained today that he did not want new airlines making international hubs in the Gulf or in Singapore which was why the six-hour condition was introduced.

Why will a Vistara, in which Singapore Airlines is a 49 percent equity partner, not provide domestic traffic to SIA anyway, even when new norms kick in? He insisted that Vistara is not being allowed to fly to Singapore initially. As per the new proposed norms, flights within six hour radius will be allowed once new airlines earn 600 DFCs.

Not just new airlines, even incumbent airlines are also vehemently opposed to the new norms and in a representation, they have reiterated that the 5/20 rule not be dismantled. The ministry official quoted earlier said that the proposal sent for inter ministerial consultations remains largely the same one which was discussed with airlines and which all airlines found fault with. Clearly indicating that barring "minor" changes, the proposal remains intact.

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