Thursday, February 18, 2016

Airlines can't be forced to fly on unviable routes, say experts

Mumbai/Delhi: Domestic carriers and the civil aviation ministry are in a quandary after the Supreme Court sought to know if there was a policy allowing carriers to skip uneconomic routes. Expressing its displeasure with airlines ignoring "unviable routes", the SC Bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur remarked on Tuesday there should be a provision asking airlines to serve uneconomic routes as well. The apex court asked the government to get back by March 9 about the policy.

The court was hearing an appeal of Air India in the matter of Shimla where the airline had stopped operations since 2012. However, data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation show airlines are complying with the route dispersal guidelines, which mandate them to deploy a part of their capacity on under-served routes. At present, airlines are free to decide on the routes based on commercial considerations and there are no guidelines that compel airlines to fly to any specific route. However, under the route dispersal norms, airlines should deploy 10 per cent of their metro capacity to category-II routes - Jammu & Kashmir, northeastern states, Lakshadweep, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Further, according to rules, one per cent of total capacity on metro routes needs to be deployed within Kashmir, northeastern states and so on. These are known as category-IIA routes.
18/02/16 Business Standard
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