The government’s policy think tank, NITI Aayog, had serious objections to the civil aviation ministry’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the draft policy of which was announced last week.
The Aayog’s main objection was on the cross-subsidy idea, of levies on trunk routes to fund connectivity to places where an airline would not otherwise wish to go. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support saved the day for the draft scheme.
The ministry had suggested such connectivity through revival of near or fully defunct airports. It appealed to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and was, after presentations and questions, able to get the support of the PM.
Improving of regional connectivity was a key feature of the National Civil Aviation Policy, unveiled last month. The concept also found place in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto during the 2014 general elections.
RCS proposes to reduce the cost of operation for airlines to places off the main routes through concessions, including through a Viability Gap Fund (VGF). For the latter, the Centre plans a levy on airlines in the trunk routes, pushing up air fares in those. Logan Cooke Authentic Jersey