• Aviation challenge awaits Jayant

    Junior minister Jayant Sinha’s shift from finance ministry to civil aviation is being blamed on his father, Yashwant Sinha’s less-than-flattering remarks about the Modi government’s performance.

    But Sinha Jr is an articulate minister and has carved his place by explaining the Modi government’s objectives in a succinct manner.

    Ashok Gajapathi Raju – a nominee of the BJP’s key ally, the TDP – cannot be removed from civil aviation even though he has had a pretty patchy record. Last month, when the government decided to permit foreign airlines to hold a 100 per cent stake in domestic airlines, the ministry botched up when it failed to change a key requirement that mandates that Indians should remain in effective control of a domestic airline.

    Raju failed to address the basic contradiction that exists in the substantial ownership and effective control norms under the aviation policy and the relaxation in the FDI rules.

    Sinha could have been brought in to the civil aviation ministry to deal with such embarrassments. After the government relaxed the so-called 5/20 rule that permitted newbie airlines like Vistara, co-owned by the Tatas, to fly abroad even though it did not have five years of domestic flying experience, the civil aviation ministry will have to grapple with the bigger issue of farming out unused bilateral rights under agreements that India has signed with more than 80 countries round the world.

    The bilateral rights cover such aspects as landing rights and the number of seats that can be offered to airlines that wish to fly abroad. Demarcus Walker Jersey

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