Monday, May 03, 2021

Aviation ministry to set up panel to review domestic flying credit system

New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry’s plan to revamp eligibility curbs on domestic carriers flying overseas hasn’t made much progress. It has now decided to set up an inter-ministerial group to look at guidelines for the domestic flying credit (DFC) system that has been proposed as a replacement for the current regime.

Apart from the older carriers objecting to the move for new norms, the DFC system has also been criticised by some as being needlessly complicated. The current rule stipulates that companies should have been operating for five years and have 20 planes if they want to run overseas services. But with new carriers such as Vistara and Air Asia India having begun to fly in the past year or so, the aviation ministry has been looking to replace this rule. Under the DFC system, points will accrue from flying to remote locations, thus helping crosscountry connectivity. Those carriers that accumulate a set number of points will then be able to start overseas flights.

The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), the lobby group for domestic carriers representing IndiGo, Jet Airways NSE -4.26 %, SpiceJet and GoAir, hasn’t been too keen on the change, given that these companies had to wait out the five-year period. But Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes has also been critical, calling it more complex than the Duckworth-Lewis formula that’s used to calculate how much a cricket team needs to score in a match cut short by bad weather or other reasons. The decision to carry out an inter-ministerial review was taken at a meeting held by civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju and attended by junior minister Mahesh Sharma along with senior officials of the ministry.

“The idea of a review was mooted by the senior minister and the junior minister gave his consent for the review,” said an official who was present. A review is likely to delay the process and may also lead to a substantial change in the proposed DFC formula.

Several ministries have not responded with their views on the draft cabinet note circulated on the issue and “we need to discuss it with them”, hence the need for a review, said another official.

03/05/21 Mihir Mishra/Economic Times

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