Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Lending wings to Flying Training Organisations

Chennai: Annual rentals for flying training schools also called flying training organisations (FTOs) in six new airports, including Salem in Tamil Nadu, have been dropped to ₹15 lakhs as against ‘several’ crores previously. This is to make setting up FTOs more attractive. Two FTOs will be given slots at each airport for 25 years based on competitive bidding. Bid documents should be out by December 15, said Amber Dubey, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Civil Aviation, in a social media posting.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has got approvals for its ‘liberalised’ policy for FTOs. Six airports - Belagavi, Jalgaon, Kalaburagi, Khajuraho, Lilabari and Salem - have been identified as the first batch to be bid out. These airports have minimal disruptions due to weather and commercial/ military air traffic, he said. This is under the double the Commercial Pilot Licence programme of the government wherein India will double its flying training capacity and become a global training hub, Dubey added.

Airlines and OEMs are also being encouraged to set up flying schools themselves or in collaboration with leading FTOs. The annual loss of forex to foreign FTOs will be gradually phased out under the Atmanirbhar Bharat movement.

Industry sources said that despite the presence of over 30 FTOs, nearly one third of the aspiring pilots prefer training institutes abroad. However, the government’s latest move will save valuable forex going out of the country. With the growth in the Indian aviation sector, over 9,000 trained pilots would be required in the next five years.

Reacting to Dubey’s social media message, Vishnu Mohan Jha, General Manager, Mumbai International Airport Limited, said it was an excellent initiative for the growth of Indian aviation. Actions taken during these times (pandemic) will determine the future of any company or nation. This liberalised policy can certainly be the game changer in the time to come.

Agreeing with Jha, Pawan Kakkar, CEO, Quick Silver Freight Systems said that it was an excellent change in the perspective. “Unless we look at airport charges in a rational manner, the regional aviation scenario cannot become viable. No point keeping the airport infra and the aircrafts underutilised as it depreciates faster than any other investment,” he said in response to Dubey’s post.

Now the airlines should come forward for this backward integration. If they can have their own or supported FTO, they will reap huge long-term benefit, felt Lokesh Bardia, Principal Consultant at Enterprise Reach.

18/11/20 TE Raja Simhan/Business Line

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