Government plans to introduce a bill to replace aviation regulator DGCA with a more autonomous body in the winter session of Parliament as part of a host of measures to meet fresh challenges in the aviation sector.
Among the measures being considered by the Civil Aviation Ministry is auctioning of some prime-time flying slots to end the opaqueness in their allocation by airport operators. The Ministry plans to table in the winter session, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Bill to replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to make CAA an autonomous body with more powers, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said.
"We will be coming up with a new computerised system of slot allotment at airports, which is presently alloted to airlines by the airports. There is no transparency in it. We are also mulling to auction some prime slots," he told reporters.
Some airlines could lose some slots, like those allocated to them but were not being operated, he said. Route Dispersal Guidelines, under which an airline is bound to operate to socially-important but financially unviable routes in the Northeast and Kashmir, would be amended to ensure that carriers operate to small cities.
A review of the aircraft acquisition policy was also being undertaken to enhance regional connectivity, he said, adding that many airlines preferred to have a single type of aircraft and ply to metro cities only.
"Airlines will have to have different types of aircraft to connect to Tier-III and Tier-IV cities," he said, adding effort would be to ensure that airlines buy smaller planes like turboprop ATRs or small jets to fly to airports having shorter runways.
In order to make airlines fly to such destinations, the new policy measures would focus on upping connectivity to regional cities through a successful 'hub-and-spoke' system.On the problem of high jet fuel prices, Singh said, "I have spoken to the states to reduce sales tax but only Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has shown some willingness."
"Our Ministry is in talks with the Oil Ministry to declare ATF a notified product so that airlines could be given some relief," he said. A flat four per cent tax is imposed on a notified product, while states currently levy tax on jet fuel ranging from four to 30 percent, making it very costly.
Asserting that there was need to bring transparency in ATF pricing by the oil companies, the Minister said, "Oil companies have increased ATF prices 7-8 times for international operators but 18 times for domestic airlines."
International airlines do not pay all taxes and levies, including state taxes, when they refuel their planes in India. So they get fuel cheaper than what is paid by an Indian carrier. On the problems facing crisis-ridden Kingfisher Airlines, Singh said the airline was currently carrying out operations with seven aircraft. "If this comes down to below five, we may revoke their licence," he said.
Regarding Air India, he said it was "slowly returning to its recovery track" as it has made a profit of Rs 48 crore for the first time since 2007. "We are appointing consultants to look into (Air India's) assets and planes, which are lying unused due to lack of repairs," the Minister said.
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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 12:21:50 IST