New airlines like Vistara may take little comfort in 5/20 abolition: here's why

The 5/20 bars Indian airlines from flying abroad unless they have completed five years of domestic operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft.

FP Editors March 13, 2015 19:07:02 IST
New airlines like Vistara may take little comfort in 5/20 abolition: here's why

New Delhi: So far new airlines like Vistara, abolition of the much maligned 5/20 rule may be small comfort. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has plans to abolish the restrictive 5/20 rule but plans to bring in new provisions which could still take a start-up airline 2-2.5 years to fly abroad.

New airlines like Vistara may take little comfort in 520 abolition heres why

A Vistara aircraft.

The 5/20 bars Indian airlines from flying abroad unless they have completed five years of domestic operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft. After much debate over whether this rule, unique to India and obviously unfair to Indian carriers vis-a-vis foreign airlines, should be abolished, the new thinking also may not be all that encouraging for new airlines.

Top sources in the ministry said today that under new proposed norms, all airlines must complete one DGCA safety audit. They must also satisfy the regulator that for at least preceding one year, they have an incident free and accident free record. Besides, they must also satisfy the complicated criterion of have "enough" flights to remote areas within India to get permission for flying abroad.

Though norms are equally applicable to all airlines, they would be significant for new entrants because earning domestic flying credits and getting DGCA audits etc. will take time.

For existing airlines, they apply for any new overseas routes - their existing flights will not be disturbed.

So like we said earlier, for start-ups like Vistara, this means 2-2.5 years before permissions arrive to fly abroad.

The source said these proposal have been discussed with all airlines and now need to be sent to the Union cabinet for approval.

Earlier, existing airlines Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Indigo and GoAir had come together to oppose inclusion in the new norms for flying abroad. Their contention was simple: they have already fulfilled five years, 20 aircraft criterion and should not have to comply with new set of conditions.

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