Ravi Prasad

The appointment of a new Indian civil aviation minister, Ananth Kumar, is translating into a fresh outlook for Indian aviation policy.

The minister is scrutinising recommendations made by an expert group, headed by a senior civil aviation ministry official, to reassess India's aviation sector.

Kumar promises a greater future role for privatisation. 'Private investment will be allowed in all spheres of aviation and measures will soon be announced to kickstart the sector,' says Kumar.

Kumar says his ministry is also set to unveil a series of measures to develop airport infrastructure. 'We have two or three cities in each state which are as important as the capitals. We will strengthen the new regional hubs to reach more sectors of society'.

A further suggestion is that all routes be auctioned and handed over to the highest bidders. The funds generated would be put in the National Civil Aviation Fund for airport and industry development.

Other committee proposals include: setting up a regulatory watchdog to settle disputes; that promoters of private airlines should own at least 50 per cent of the fleet and that airlines should not be allowed to use wet leased aircraft when starting operations. Route dispersal guidelines, whereby airlines are forced to deploy a part of their fleet on unprofitable routes, should be replaced by subsidies and experience of new operators should be considered before licences are granted.

Source: Airline Business