• New aviation policy may help airline startups take wing

    The new aviation policy will lead to the launch of new airlines in the country bringing in more cities on the national network, according to civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey. India currently has Air Costa, Air Pegasus and Trujet which fly smaller planes and command between them 1.4% of the domestic market. Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet also have sizeable small plane operations. Several entrepreneurs have showed interest in starting new airlines even with a small fleet of three planes while the policy was being framed, Choubey said, adding that he was expecting new launches in the months ahead. A lot of small plane manufacturers too have been in touch with the ministry, Choubey said. The ministry has told the manufacturers that while they sell their planes in India, they should also create training and aircraft maintenance facilities and offer aircraft and better aircraft leasing terms. The ministry plans to subsidize airlines that aim to connect cities that have not been connected before. A cess on most domestic flights will be levied to create a corpus that could help keep the fares on such routes at about Rs.2,500. “Since inception, Air Pegasus has positioned itself to connect with small towns and cities like Hubli, Kadapa, Belgaum and the policy announced today aims at increasing the connectivity to such smaller towns and cities by offering sops and incentives. This should motivate players like us to increase our connectivity further more with smaller towns as the policy will refund 80% of the losses incurred by airlines due to the cap of Rs.2,500 for one-hour flights between smaller towns and cities,” said Shyson Thomas, managing director, Air Pegasus. To be sure, many short-haul routes in the country like Delhi-Dehradun, Jammu-Srinagar and others are already available for as little as Rs.1,100 when booked in advance. The policy aims to take the number of such city pairs up, but experts say it’s going to be a challenging task. Ty Montgomery Jersey

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