Group of ministers discusses draft aviation policy

New Delhi: A Group of Ministers today discussed the draft aviation policy including the existing norm for international flying by domestic carriers and the proposed options at a meeting here chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The dozen odd-ministers including Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju held extensive discussions on the norm for international flying by domestic carriers and regional air connectivity, sources said.

“After the detailed discussions on the 5/20 issue, the decision (whether to continue with the existing rule or tweak it or scrap it altogether) has been left to the Civil Aviation Ministry,” they said.

The decade-long rule, popularly known as 5/20, allows only those Indian airlines which have a 20-aircraft fleet and have operated in the domestic sector for five years to fly abroad. However, two startup carriers — Vistara and AirAsia India — are lobbying for its removal, but the established airlines want the status quo to be maintained.

The draft aviation policy, rolled out last October, contains several provisions like two per cent levy on all air tickets to fund regional connectivity and tax sops, among others, which would have financial implications when the policy comes for implementation.

The meeting, chaired by Rajnath Singh, was attended by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju his deputy Mahesh Sharma, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, Power Minister Piyush Goyal and Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy besides Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey, official sources said.

“It was quite a good meeting. Most of the issues in the draft civil aviation policy were discussed during the meeting,” sources privy to the meeting said.

Significantly, the meeting comes a day after domestic airlines body Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) sought Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) intervention in incorporating some of its concerns while finalising the draft civil aviation policy.

A delegation of airlines operators, under the FIA banner, representing four private carriers — Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Go Air — had yesterday called on Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh and submitted a memorandum, which included issues such as FIA’s opposition to the removal of 5/20 norm, auctioning of additional seats to foreign players and the issue of substantial ownership and effective control, among others.