- In the last decade, the Civil Aviation sector has grown at a phenomenal pace. India has emerged as the world’s ninth largest civil aviation market.
- The total passenger traffic stood at 220.12 million in FY17, which recorded 190.1 million in FY15 in India. During FY06-17, passenger traffic grew at a CAGR of 10.51% in the country. Total freight traffic registered a CAGR of 6.8 per cent over FY06-16 .
- The growth in passenger and freight traffic has been made possible by growth in total aircraft movement, which recorded a CAGR of 5.59 per cent over FY07-17. The Government of India (GOI) has opened airport sector to private participation and six airports across major cities are being developed under the PPP model.
- The Airports Authority of India (AAI) aims to bring around 250 airports under operation across the country by 2020
AIRPORTS AUTHORITY OF INDIA (AAI)
- AAI is a PSU under the Ministry of Civil Aviation engaged in development and building of airport infrastructure & managing airports across the country. AAI came into existence in 1995 with the merger of the then two authorities (National Airports Authority and International Airports Authority of India).
- AAI has the responsibility of creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure both on the ground and air space in the country.
- The main functions of AAI include construction, modification & management of passenger terminals, development & management of cargo terminals, development & maintenance of apron infrastructure including runways, parallel taxiways, apron etc., Provision of Communication, Navigation and Surveillance which includes provision of DVOR / DME, ILS, ATC radars, visual aids etc., provision of air traffic services, provision of passenger facilities and related amenities at its terminals thereby ensuring safe and secure operations of aircraft, passenger and cargo in the country.
- Induction of latest state-of-the-art equipment, both as replacement of old equipments and also as new facilities to improve standards of safety of airports in the air is a continuous process.
- Adoptions of new and improved procedure go hand in hand with induction of new equipment.
- Some of the major initiatives in this direction are introduction of Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) in the India air space to increase airspace capacity and reduce congestion in the air; implementation of GPS and Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) jointly with ISRO which when put to operation would be one of the four such systems in the world.
DIRECTOR GENERAL OF CIVIL AVIATION (DGCA)
DGCA is the regulatory body in the field of civil aviation under the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The DGCA currently has no recruiting powers. It is responsible for:
- Regulation of air transport services to/from and within India in accordance with the provisions of the Aircraft Rules, 1937.
- Licensing of pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers and monitoring of flight crew standards.
- Registration of civil aircraft.
- Laying down airworthiness requirements for civil aircrafts registered in India and grant of certificate of airworthiness to such aircrafts.
- Investigation of minor air accidents and incidents and rendering technical assistants to courts/commissions of enquiry appointed by the government.
- Safety oversight and surveillance of air carriers and aerodromes.
- Rendering advice to Government on matters pertaining to air transport including bilateral air services agreements with foreign countries.
- Type certification of Aircraft.
- Processing amendments to the Aircraft Act, 1934 and Aircraft Rules, 1937 and other acts relating to civil aviation, with a view to implementing the provisions of the Chicago convention in India.
NATIONAL CIVIL AVIATION POLICY (NCAP 2016)
- The Union Cabinet recently cleared the Civil Aviation Policy in order to boost the domestic aviation sector and provide passenger-friendly fares. This new policy aims at providing various benefits to domestic airline passengers.
A) Aim of the Policy
- 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. To grow domestic passenger traffic nearly four-fold to 300 million 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.
- Enhancing ease of doing business through deregulation, simplified procedures and egovernance.
- Promoting ‘Make In India’ in the Civil Aviation Sector.
- Ensuring availability of quality certified 3.3 lakh skilled personnel by 2025.
B) Highlights of NCAP
- Regional Connectivity Scheme
- Capping of fare: Rs 1,200 for 30 minutes and Rs 2,500 for hour-long flights.
- Revival of airstrips/airports as No-Frills Airports at an indicative cost of Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 100 crore.
- Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG)
- MoCA will categorize the air traffic routes into 3 categories.
- 5/20 rule scrapped
- Replaced with a scheme which provides a level playing field.
- All airlines can now commence international operations provided that they deploy 20 aircraft or 20% of total capacity, whichever is higher for domestic operations.
- Bilateral Traffic Rights
- Government of India will enter into ‘Open Sky’ ASA on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and countries located beyond 5,000 km from Delhi. i.e. these countries will have unlimited access, in terms of number of flights and seats, to Indian airports, leading to increased flight frequencies.
- Ease of Doing Business
- A single window for all aviation related transactions, complaints, etc.
- More focus on ease-of-doing business as government plans to liberalize regime of regional flights.
- Infrastructure Development
- Restoration of air strips at a maximum cost of Rs. 50 crore through Airports Authority of India (AAI).
- Four Heli-hubs to be developed. Helicopter Emergency Medical Services to be facilitated.
- Development of Greenfield and Brownfield airports by State governments, private sector or in PPP mode to be encouraged.
- Future tariffs at all airports will be calculated on a ‘hybrid till’ basis. Under ‘hybrid till’, only up to 30 per cent of the non-aeronautical revenues, which include segments like retail, food & beverages and parking, would be used for cross-subsidisation of aeronautical charges.
- Airline balance sheets are unstable, with most failing to register profits over multi-year periods.
- At various times, airfares have been unsustainably low or unjustifiably high, and there has been no clear regulatory response.
- The cyclical anxiety over government subsidies to Air India, and the consequent effects on the Industry, often results in little more than a fresh capital injection.
- Some issues have also arisen regarding perceived high charges in some of the new private airports.
- New airport projects are announced with overlapping or insufficient catchment areas, without regard for airspace issues or the potential for airlines to operate there.
- India’s civil aviation sector is facing acute shortages in manpower (pilots, cabin crew, air traffic controllers, ground staff etc). This shortage is primarily due to a significant lack of training infrastructure, including training academies, instructors and equipment.
- Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) is much more expensive in India than regional airports offshore. ATF accounts for almost 40% of the operating cost of Indian carriers as against a figure of 20% for international carriers.
- Amidst all this, the industry is hamstrung by a tortuous system of taxes, cesses, rules and regulatory restrictions.
- Aviation is part of a multi-modal network. Every decision on air transport infrastructure should ultimately be able to be traced back to a sense of place and purpose within the wider transport network that is inclusive of all modes. Network-centric thinking should prevail while planning air transport infrastructure. Efforts should be directed at building complementary regional, national and international air networks.
- UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) Scheme
- The scheme seeks to boost air connectivity by linking up un-served and under-served airports in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with the big cities and also with each other.
- Critics have raised concerns as the viability gap funding (concessions provided to the airlines to encourage them to fly on regional routes) under UDAN scheme will last only for three years and various operational issues, such as the lack of slots for connecting flights at major airports will affect financial health of airlines
- Note: A number of smaller airports have come up- Example: Shirdi in Maharashtra, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and Pakyong in Sikkim
- In the upcoming 3rdphase of UDAN, the government would invite proposals for air routes that include tourist destinations and seaplanes to connect through places such as Sardar Sarovar Dam, Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana
- International UDAN:
- It seeks to connect India’s smaller cities directly to some key foreign destinations in the neighbourhood.
- Only the State government that will provide the financial support for flights under international UDAN.Financial support and flying exclusivity on the route will be for three years
- Project DISHA (Driving Improvements in Service and Hospitality at Airports)
- It aims to enhance operational efficiency and the overall travel experience of the travellers. The Airports Authority of India has planned to invest Rs. 17,500 crore in upgrading the existing airport infrastructure as part as part of Project DISHA
- Draft charter of passenger rights:It aims to improve passenger experience in India. Some key provisions include:
- Passengers will be compensated if an airline is at fault for any delay. Passengers are eligible for a full refund if a domestic airline cancels a flight 1 day before departure or delays it for more than 4 hours.
- Delay resulting in flight departing next day- Airline to provide free hotel stay
- Compensation for missing connecting flights: Rs. 5000-Rs.20000
- Free Cancellation of air tickets 24hrs of booking and within 4 days before scheduled departure. Further cancellation charges cannot be more than the sum of basic fare and fuel surcharge
- Air SEWA mobile app:
- It enables passengers check flight status and connecting flights in real time, and get information on the facilities available at all airports in the country. It also helps users address their grievances through the application.
- More than one Airport in citieswill help in easing traffic. London is an example.
- Airports need to build on the anticipation of demand,the way Ireland built the airport in Hong Kong.
- Use of Latest Technology is requiredfor the efficient working of Air Traffic Control and Navigation systemand also for the safety and security in Aircrafts.
- Regional Connectivity Scheme needs alternate requisite support.
- The capping of Airport Slotsis a good interim solution to meet the infrastructure deficit. The Airline which is not doing well should not enjoy the privilege of reserved slots. The slots should be given to good performing airlines.
- We need not to keep Air India under Government fold. Its Pilots can get employed in other airlines.
- Financial Health:
- All petroleum products including Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) should be brought under GST.
- Using fuel-efficient technology for navigation system. Looking out for the use of biofuel and Solar Power.
- A Rational Approach to Aviation Taxation should be adopted.
- Maintenance and Repairing Organizations (MRO) should be started in India.
- Carrying Cargo is a solution for poor performing Airlines.The Civil Aviation Minister also recently said that Government is thinking on ‘Cargo Policy’.
- Tie-Upswith other departments are required to improve Cargo Traffic.
- India Outbound is growing very well.This is needed to be linked with India’s Foreign Policy to ensure that growth takes all over.
- Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944:
- The Convention requires that Contracting States ensure that their aircrafts do not cross jurisdictions and that one Contracting State’s aviation services do not interfere with another’s.
- Pursuant to this Convention, India also became one of the founding members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which codifies the principles and techniques set forth in the Chicago Convention.
- Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, 1999 (Montreal Convention):It deals with scope of liabilities to be paid to families for death or injury whilst on board an aircraft.
- The Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, 2001 (Cape Town Convention): It standardizes transactions involving movable property. The Protocol to the Cape Town Convention made this applicable to aircraft objects.
- Government should also look at a clear policy for ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’.
- Involvement of as many as agencies, possible, is required for building Infrastructure and thus boosting Aviation Sector.
- The Central Government and the State Governments should make a concerted effort, for this sector to grow at a good pace.
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