Jyotiraditya Scindia forms committees to advise on civil aviation sector

Minister for Civil Aviation has formed three committees to advise him on critical issues of the industry. The three advisory committees for airlines, and maintenance and repair organisations and flight training institutes, comprise CEOs and promoters.

With Scindia himself chairing the committees, the group will meet once every month to sort out issues, which can be regulatory or financial, said a person aware of the development.

Scindia, who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from the Indian National Congress (INC) in March 2020, is the son of late INC politician Madhavrao Scindia, who too held the civil aviation portfolio under former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s government between 1991 and 1993.

“Co-ordination between the government and industry is very critical now as civil aviation has been one of the worst hit sectors by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Hence, through this arrangement, industry captains can straight away regularly make the minister aware of the issues that need urgent attention,” the person said.

The committee for airlines consists of airline promoters- Rahul Bhatia of IndiGo, Ajay Singh of SpiceJet, Ness Wadia from Go Air, Sunil Bhaskaran, CEO of AirAsia India, Bhaskar Bhat, chairman of Vistara and Raiv Bansal, CMD of Air India.

According to the circular reviewed by Business Standard the committee will advise the government on steps required to- improve domestic and international connectivity, improve financial viability of airlines and other regulatory issues.

Similarly the committee on has representation from GBS Raju, head of division at GMR group, Hari Marar, CEO of Bangalore International Airport, Jeet Adani- head of airports business at Adani group. The group will be meeting every month to suggest steps required to enhance airport capacity, infrastructure modernisation and improving customer experience.

The civil aviation industry, facing huge losses due to the ongoing pandemic, is betting on newly-appointed Union civil aviation minister to accelerate key reforms long sought by the sector, said senior industry representatives.

The industry has been sharply divided over a government decision to control capacity and fare despite deregulating the aviation industry in 1994, allowing market forces to determine the fares in order to safeguard airlines with weaker financials like SpiceJet and Go Air.

However, a clause in the Aircraft Act, 1934, which governs aviation in India, allows the government to frame any rules, including those related to the regulation of tariffs. However, last year when the airlines were allowed to restart operations after a closure of two months, the government started the practice of controlling capacity and airfare.

IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta had earlier said that regulatory caps on capacity on fare impacts an airline’s decision making. “Our morning fare should be so different from an afternoon fare, one way fare out of Ranchi is very different from an incoming fare into Ranchi. Let people get creative with it, let people experiment with it and let’s see what the right answer is. But let’s not have it dictated by someone by saying this is what the fare should be,” Dutta had said earlier.

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