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New civil aviation policy to focus on regional connectivity: Prez

Budget session

New Delhi : The government is working on a new civil aviation policy which seeks to provide connectivity to the smaller cities even as domestic air traffic has been on a growth path in the last one year, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.

“The government is working on a new Civil Aviation Policy with thrust on connectivity to small cities,” he said in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament.

The President said domestic air traffic has also registered substantial growth during the year.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had last October unveiled an elaborate and revised draft National Civil Aviation Policy and stakeholders were given time till November 30 to give their feedback and suggestions.

In the draft policy, the ministry had proposed a raft of measures to bolster regional air connectivity, including levying of additional cess and providing viability gap funding.

The draft policy focuses on boosting regional connectivity apart from proposals for various tax sops and over 50 per cent FDI for Indian carriers.

It also moots setting up of no-frills airports and providing viability gap funding for airlines to enhance regional connectivity and talks about reviewing the decade-old 5/20 norm for international flying by domestic airlines, which allows only those Indian carriers to fly abroad who have completed five years of operations on local routes and have a minimum of 20 aircraft in their fleet.

Under the proposed policy, the fare would also be capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour flight under the regional connectivity scheme for places that are currently not covered.

Though the government has not assigned any time-frame for putting in place the new policy, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey had recently reportedly said the policy was likely to be finalised next month and implemented from the next fiscal.

A Group of Ministers had last week discussed the draft aviation policy, including the 5/20 rule, at a meeting here chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

According to International Air Transport Association (IATA), India’s domestic air passenger traffic grew by a whopping 20.2 per cent in 2015 over the previous year, helped by better economic performance and increase in number of flights across the domestic network.

IATA had late last year forecast that India would replace the UK as the third largest aviation market globally by 2026.

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