The Ministry of Civil Aviation has come up with a Draft Civil Aviation Policy seeking comments on the controversial 5/20 rule – 5 years of flying experience & 20 aircraft fleet for Indian Airlines to be eligible to fly abroad – continue, scrap or replace with a complex system of Domestic Flying Credits. It also proposes auction of certain bilaterals in future. But consider, whether it addresses any of the following existing issues :
1. Slack Capacity in utilization of Bilaterals by eligible Domestic Carriers, especially on Gulf / Middle East and ASEAN Sectors.
2. Non-utilization with countries such as to Iran (Chahbahar), Central Asian countries & Vietnam – We have booming trade, commerce & strategic interest at these places.
Why should there be any restriction on new airlines or on those not meeting the 5/20 criteria in cases where there is under-utilisation or non-utilisation of bilateral entitlements by existing eligible domestic carriers, as noted above in (1) & (2).
3. Why not allow even Regional Operators Fly to Neighboring Countries under India’s SAARC Outreach programme i.e., Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives under the proposed Open Sky Policy (See 7(b) of Draft Civil Aviation Policy). These flights will be akin to flights operated by regional carriers in terms of distance, flight duration & possibly airfares. For example, Delhi-Lahore or Mumbai-Karachi, Bengaluru – Colombo or Kokata – Kathmandu or Kolkata -Dhaka.
4. Absence of Bilaterals where a large Indian Diaspora is present such as Fiji, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname and Guyana in Caribbean Islands, Papua New Guinea, etc or with Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos – where we have a strategic interest.
5. The PM is doling out e-Visas on his foreign trips but what is the follow-up by the Ministry of Civil Aviation? How will more tourists and business(es) come to India without incremental flights?