• Ministers in former UPA government say aviation policy lacks implementation plan

    The ministers in the former United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government criticised the first-ever policy on aviation, saying it lacks crucial requirements and falls short of an implementation plan, a day after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government announced the policy.

    The two significant announcements in the policy are — replacement of five years and 20 aircraft international flying norms with 0/20 or 20%, whichever is higher, and introduction of regional flights at a fixed fare of Rs 2,500/hour. ET spoke to former aviation ministers Praful Patel and Ajit Singh, trying to pick their brains on the new initiatives.

    While Patel said that the policy lacks vision on the execution of key announcements, Singh termed it a missed opportunity. “While the concept of regional flights at Rs 2,500 per hour is good as newer cities will be connected, there will be many challenges of execution, which the government has not factored in, it seems,” Patel said. He, however, praised the decision to replace the 5/20 norm with a new lenient one, saying it is a welcome step.

    “Times were different when 5/20 was introduced and the change is in continuity with the change, as the sector has grown exponentially,” he explained. Notably, Patel was the aviation minister when the 5/20 formula was introduced in 2004, and the 0/20 norm to replace 5/20 is believed said to have been suggested by Patel himself in one of the consultative committee meetings, which discussed the aviation policy.

    Singh said the policy has not touched upon important issues such as the formation of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to replace the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

    “Formation of CAA was recommended by all committees formed in the country to suggest measures to improve the aviation sector. Not just that even International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had recommended it. During my tenure, it was even cleared by the parliamentary standing committee. The policy does not say anything on it,” Singh said. Blidi Wreh-Wilson Jersey

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