Tata calls for scrapping ‘5/20’ norm for flying abroad

Mumbai, Feb 24 (IANS) Tata Sons, owners of carriers Vistara and AirAsia, said on Wednesday the “5/20 rule” rule restricting new carriers from flying overseas should be scrapped as it gives an unfair advantage to foreign airlines that now dominate international air travel.

“The rule is discriminatory to Indian airlines as foreign airlines that do not meet these criteria are allowed to operate in Indian skies, but Indian airlines cannot enjoy reciprocal rights,” Tata said in a statement here.

It said the rule had allowed foreign airlines, led by Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates, to capture 70 percent of international traffic.

Both the Tata airlines are less than two years old and hence not eligible to operate international flights.

Vistara is a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, while AirAsia India is a tri venture with Air Asia Berhard of Malaysia and Arun Bhatia’s Telstra.

In a tweet on Sunday, Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata had favoured waiver of the 5/20 rule, and charges older airlines were seeking it be retained but budget carrier SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh had joined issue, opposing his demand.

“It is sad to see incumbent (old) airlines lobbying for protection and preferential treatment for themselves against the new airlines, which have been formed in full compliance with prevailing government policy and providing air transport to Indian citizens in line with the dream of ‘New India’,” tweeted Tata.

Tata’s tweet follows a representation by the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) comprising Jet Airways, SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir to Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh on retaining the 5/20 norm, auctioning of additional seats to foreign carriers among other issues.

Meanwhile, the FIA on Tuesday criticised the lobbying by the Tata Sons airlines for removal of the 5/20 rule, saying it was in the “self-interest and not in “national interest” of the two carriers.

“FIA is deeply disturbed by the statements issued by Tata claiming to be in national interest but effectively in self-interest,” FIA said in a statement.

“They (Vistara and AirAsia) claim to be ‘Indian’ Airlines and so it is puzzling that they now do not wish to serve the Indian civil aviation growth story be a part of India’s future growth. They only wish to, it appears, serve their self-interest and establish themselves in India in order to fly International,” it said.

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