Monday, February 29, 2016

Flying rule tweak in the air

New Delhi: The aviation ministry is working to remove the "years" clause in the 5/20 rule that bars airlines from flying abroad without five years of domestic experience and a fleet of 20 aircraft.

However, incumbent airlines maintain that modifying this rule without scrapping the route dispersal guidelines will create inequity among players.

An aviation ministry official said the draft aviation policy was likely to allow new airlines (who have just started or have less than five years of domestic flying experience) to fly abroad if they meet a minimum fleet criteria of 10 or 20 aircraft.

"They will have to continue operating a certain percentage of flights deployed on metro routes to remote and unprofitable sectors in Jammu & Kashmir, the Northeast and Port Blair," the official said.

However, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) - which represents older carriers such as Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir - has warned of raising passenger fares if a situation arises where they are asked to follow the route dispersal guidelines, while the government allows the newer players to fly abroad.

According to the FIA, the new policy will force its members to continue to operate on their existing routes, while rivals such as AirAsia and Vistara will be free to go abroad after flying on a few domestic routes.

The older carriers have even threatened to take a legal recourse if the 5/20 rule is scrapped.

The government has delayed its decision on the aviation policy for over a year, though both aviation minister Gajapathi Raju and junior minister Mahesh Sharma favour scrapping the 5/20 rule.
29/02/16 Jayati Ghose/Telegraph
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