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Cabinet approves Civil Aviation Policy; India set to become 3rd largest civil aviation market
Civil Aviation Policy: Domestic ticketing to grow from 8 crore in 2015 to 30 crore by 2022
Civil Aviation Policy: Scheduled commercial flights to increase from 77 in 2016 to 127 by 2019; Cargo volumes to go up by 4 times
Civil Aviation Policy: Government aims to make air travel affordable
Civil Aviation Policy: Green-field airports and heliports to be developed

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Civil Aviation Policy. This is the first time since Independence that an integrated Civil Aviation Policy has been brought out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Highlights

The Policy aims at:

  • India to become 3rd largest civil aviation market by 2022 from 9th
  • Domestic ticketing to grow from 8 crore in 2015 to 30 crore by 2022
  • Airports having scheduled commercial flights to increase from 77 in 2016 to 127 by 2019
  • Cargo volumes to increase by 4 times to 10 million tonnes by 2027
  • Taking flying to masses – Enabling Indians to fly at Rs. 2,500 per hour under Regional Connectivity Scheme at unserved airports
  • Requirement of 5 years of domestic flying for starting international operations removed
  • Flexible and liberalized ‘open skies’ and ‘code share’ agreements
  • Incentives to MRO sector to develop as hub for South Asia
  • Ensuring availability of quality certified 3.3 lakh skilled personnel by 2025
  • Development of green-field airports and heliports
  • Enhancing ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures and e-governance
  • Promoting ‘Make In India’ in Civil Aviation Sector

Areas covered in the Policy:

  1. Regional connectivity
  2. Safety

iii.   Air Transport Operations

  1. Route Dispersal Guidelines
  2. 5/20 Requirement for International    Operations
  3. Bilateral traffic rights

vii. Code-share agreements

viii. Fiscal Support

  1. Airports developed by State Govt, Private sector or in PPP mode
  2. Airports Authority of India
  3. Air Navigation Services

xii.  Aviation security, Immigration and Customs

xiii.  Helicopters

xiv.  Charters

  1. Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

xvi.  Ground handling

xvii.  Air-cargo

xviii.  Aeronautical ‘Make in India’

xix.  Aviation education and skill development

  1. Sustainable aviation

xxi.  Miscellaneous

xxiii.  Essential Services Maintenance Act, 1968

Salient features of the Policy

  1. The Viability Gap Funding (VGF) will be funded by a small levy per departure on all domestic routes other than Cat II/ Cat IIA routes, RCS routes and small aircraft at a rate as decided by the Ministry from time to time. A detailed scheme will be put up in the Public domain for stakeholders consultations.
  2. The 5/20 rule for commencement of international flight in operation since 2004 is replaced by a formulation which provides a level playing field and allows airlines, both new and old, to commence international operations provided they continue to meet some obligation for domestic operation. All airlines can commence international operations provided they deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of total capacity (in term of average number of seats on all departures put together), whichever is higher, for domestic operations.

iii. Necessary administrative and financial flexibility will be provided to Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for an effective aviation safety oversight system and for creating a transparent single-window system for all aviation safety related issues.

  1. The Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG)  have been rationalised by making the criteria for declaring a route as Category I (trunk route) more transparent, while the traffic to be deployed on Cat II and IIA expressed in terms of a percentage of CAT I traffic remains the same. The criteria proposed for a Cat I route are a flying distance of more than 700 km, average seat factor of more than 70% and annual traffic of 5 lakh passengers. The percentage for CAT III will be reduced in view of the Regional Connectivity Scheme coming into operation. Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have been included as part of category II routes.
  2. The regime of bilateral rights and code share agreements will be liberalised leading to greater ease of doing business and wider choice to passengers. “Open skies” will be implemented on a reciprocal basis for SAARC countries and countries beyond 5000 kms from Delhi. A method will be recommended by a Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary for the allotment of additional capacity entitlements wherever designated Indian carriers have not utilised 80% of their bilateral rights but the foreign airlines/countries have utilised their part and are pressing for increase in the capacity.
  3. The Ministry will continue to encourage development of airports by the State Government or the private sector or in PPP mode and endeavour to provide regulatory certainty. Future greenfield and brownfield airports will have cost efficient functionality with no compromise on safety and security.

vii.  Airport Authority of India (AAI) will continue to develop and modernise its airports and upgrade quality of services. AAI will be suitably compensated in case a new greenfield airport is approved in future within 150 km radius of an existing operational AAI airport which is not yet saturated.

viii.  Upgradation and modernisation of Air Navigation Services will continue in line with global trends. AAI will provide a fully harmonised Air Navigation System considering International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Global Air Navigation Plan, Aviation system Block Upgrade and modern performance based technologies and procedures.

  1. The Government will promote helicopter usage by issuing separate regulations for helicopters and development of four heli-hubs initially. Ministry of Civil Aviation will also coordinate with all the agencies and stakeholders concerned to facilitate Helicopter Emergency Medical Services.
  2. In the budget for 2016-17, the customs duty for MRO’s  has been rationalised and the procedure for clearance of goods simplified, in particular duty on tools and tool kits. Further incentives have been proposed in the policy to give a push to this sector :-
  • MoCA will persuade State Governments to make VAT zero-rated on MRO activities
  • Provision for adequate land for MRO service providers will be made in all future airport/heliport projects where potential for such MRO services exists.
  • Airport royalty and additional charges will not be levied on MRO service providers for a period of five years from the date of approval of the policy.

The existing ground handling policy is being replaced with a new framework to ensure fair competition. The airport operator will ensure that there will be three Ground Handling Agencies (GHA) including Air India's subsidiary/JV at all major airports as defined in AERA Act 2008. At  non-major airports, the airport operator to decide on the number of ground handling agencies, based on the traffic output, airside and terminal building capacity. All domestic scheduled airline operators including helicopter operators will be free to carry out self-handling at all airports. Hiring of employees through manpower supplier will not be permitted.

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Governors are an important pillar of Janbhagidari in this battle against Covid: PM
Combined power of all community organizations, political parties, NGOs and social institutions needs to be harnessed in this fight: PM
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Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today interacted with Governors of States regarding the Covid-19 situation and ongoing vaccination drive in the country, through video conferencing.

Prime Minister said that in the battle against Covid, along with the vaccines, our values and sense of duty are our biggest strengths. Praising the citizens who participated in this battle last year considering it their duty, he said that the same feeling of Janbhagidari needs to be encouraged now as well. He said that the role of the Governors, through appropriate utilization of their social capacity, thus becomes all the more critical to achieving this. Governors are an important link to ensure better coordination between State Governments and society, he said, adding that the combined power of all community organizations, political parties, NGOs and social institutions needs to be harnessed.

Prime Minister suggested that the Governors can actively engage to ensure that social institutions collaborate seamlessly with the State Governments towards micro containment. He said that their social network can help ensure an increase in the capacity of ambulances, ventilators and oxygen in hospitals. Along with spreading the message about vaccination and treatment, the Governors can also spread awareness about AYUSH related remedies.

Prime Minister noted that our youth, our workforce, is an important part of our economy. Hence, it is important to ensure that our youth follows all Covid related protocols and precautions. He said that the Governors’ role is also critical in ensuring the greater engagement of our students in University campuses towards this Janbhagidari. We also need to focus on better utilization of facilities at University and College campuses, he added. He said that just like last year, NCC and NSS also have a key role to play this year as well. Prime Minister said that the Governors are an important pillar of Janbhagidari in this battle and their coordination with State Governments and guidance to institutions of the State will further strengthen the nation’s resolve.

Discussing the rise in the number of Covid cases, the Prime Minister said that in this stage of the fight against the virus, the country stands to gain from last year’s experience and improved healthcare capacity. He discussed the increase RTPCR testing capacity and noted that the country has become Aatmanirbhar with respect to kits and other material related to testing. All this has led to a reduction in the cost of RTPCR tests also. He added that most of the products related to testing are also available on the GeM portal. Prime Minister emphasized the significance of increasing tracking, tracing and testing, and said that RTPCR testing needs to be increased from 60% to 70%. He said that it is pertinent to ensure that more and more people get tested.

Prime Minister underlined that the government is committed to ensuring adequate availability of vaccines. He highlighted that India has become the fastest nation to reach the landmark of 10 crore vaccinations. Noting the positive impact of Tika Utsav in the last four days, he said that in this period, the vaccination drive was expanded and new vaccination centres also came up.

Interaction

The Vice President of India, Union Home Minister and Union Health Minister also attended the interaction.

The Vice President appreciated the Prime Minister for leading the fight against Covid and his proactive steps to develop the infrastructure required to tackle the pandemic. He also highlighted the scientific community's contribution in giving a vaccine to India and the whole world. He also talked about the contribution of healthcare workers, sanitation workers, and other frontline workers who have played a vital role during the pandemic.

The Vice President called upon the Governors to bring up a coordinated front by leading all-party meetings in their respective states and engaging with civil society organisations to spread awareness about covid-appropriate behaviour. The Vice president said that a 'Team India spirit' cutting across policy lines should be adopted, and in this regard, Governors as the 'Guardians of the State' could guide the State Governments.

Union Home Minister stressed the importance of saving each and every life. Union Health Secretary gave a presentation on Covid cases and vaccination drive. He gave an overview of how India has followed a proactive and pre-emptive approach in this endeavour.

The Governors shared details of how their respective states are tackling the spread of the virus and coordinating activities towards ensuring a smooth implementation of the vaccination drive, while also mentioning the deficiencies of healthcare facilities in the States.

They gave suggestions for further improvement in the efforts and shared plans of how Janbhagidari can be increased through the active social engagement of various groups.