Policy to be circulated after ironing out minor issues: Raju

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Friday said he hoped to place the draft civil aviation policy before the union cabinet after sorting out certain minor issues.

“We have had extensive discussions. There are two-three minor issues which are getting ironed out right now, as soon as they are ironed out, it (policy) will be circulated,” Raju told reporters at an industry event here.

“Government has a procedure, we take inter-department consultations.”

The minister spoke on the sidelines of an airports marketing conference which was organised by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The draft civil aviation policy was released on October 30 and was placed in the public domain to garner feedback and suggestions from all stakeholders before finalisation.

The policy thereafter was expected to be presented to the union cabinet in late December last year for final approval after formal suggestions and feedback had been received.

The civil aviation ministry even extended the last date for receiving stakeholders’ comments on the draft civil aviation policy till November 30, 2015.

The draft policy, which has encountered stiff resistance from some quarters in the industry, has proposed certain changes like imposing a new cess and regulating minimum fare tariffs.

Further, the minister clarified that effective control of domestic airlines which sell stake to foreign passenger carriers comes under the Ministry of Finance.

According to Raju, the finance ministry decides the level of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) allowed in all sectors.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) had demanded that the matter regarding effective control be settled first before the government decides to change or alter the 5/20 international flying norms.

Currently, the 5/20 norms prescribe that only those passenger carriers that have been in operation for five years and have a fleet of 20 aircraft can fly abroad.

Among the seven main scheduled airlines in the country, only four meet the requirements — Air India, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo. The three others — GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia India — are ineligible.

Several aviation research institutions such as the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation have described the 5/20 rule as being damaging, discriminatory and anti-competition, besides preventing carriers from optimal fleet utilisation and expansion.

However, any relaxation of the compliance rule is being stiffly resisted by older airlines which cite huge losses on account of meeting the stringent norms.

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