Draft aviation policy seeking to improve connectivity unveiled

New Delhi, Oct 30 (ANI): Aiming to improve air connectivity among smaller cities, the Centre on Friday announced draft aviation policy aimed at popularising air travel among the people.

Releasing the Revised Draft National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP 2015) here, Minister of Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju urged all stakeholders to participate in the process of firming up the policy by giving their valuable suggestions to the ministry.

He said the Civil Aviation Policy should be a dynamic one that could keep pace with the ever changing demands of the sector.

Minister of State for Civil Aviation and MoS (Independent Charge) Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma, however, underscored the importance of bringing air travel within the reach of the common man, and facilitating regional air connectivity within the country.

On the occasion, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey gave a presentation highlighting the salient features of the draft policy.

As per the new policy, airlines will not be allowed to charge more than Rs. 2,500 for an hour of flight between two small cities.

As per the new draft, as many as 300 airports and air strips in smaller cities will be operationalised, while the expenditure will be borne by the government by setting up a special fund.

To boost the aviation sector, the draft proposes tax incentives to airlines by giving them custom exception on aviation fuel. The policy aims to bring India to third position from the current 10th position in the global aviation sector.

The government has also proposed a slew of tax incentives for airlines and maintenance works in the draft policy, including hike in the FDI in domestic airlines to over 50 percent in open skies policy, which is 49 percent at present. Under open skies policy, overseas airlines can operate unlimited number of flights within and out of India.

The policy proposes to put service tax at “zero” to promote maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in order to develop India as an MRO hub in Asia. It also seeks to revive under-served airstrips and build no-frills airports at a cost of Rs. 50 crore under the Regional Connectivity Scheme. The Draft Policy proposes 2 percent levy on all domestic and overseas tickets for funding the scheme.

The policy proposes separate regulations for helicopters from the first of April, 2016. The Centre will support growth of helicopters for remote area connectivity, intra-city movement, tourism, law enforcement, disaster relief and medical evacuation.

Other policy reforms which have been envisaged are greater de-regulation, transparency and e-governance, aviation education and skill building, and promotion of sustainable aviation practices. The policy is open to comments from the industry and various stakeholders before being finalised. (ANI)

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