• Policy Not Enough, Regional Carriers Seek Active Support

    The draft policy outline issued for feedback and suggestion on the much-hyped Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) by the civil aviation ministry promises lucrative airfares linked to distance travelled. But regional airlines and business aircraft operators want concrete measures in order to make RCS a success.

    Last week, when a delegation of the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) met the civil aviation ministry officials, they sought interest subsidy on loans or a cap on interest rates, easier access to funds for small airline firms, ability and flexibility in mortgaging of smaller aircrafts to take loans among others. Then older demands of allowing carriers to have their own ground handling service and lower parking charges at bigger airports were reiterated. The delegation wants the central government to bring down the interest rates for loans to small aircrafts in line with international practice.

    The draft RCS says the Passenger Service Fee (PSF), Development Fee (DF) and User Development Fee (UDF) will not be imposed on the air tickets. This means the airfare under the scheme will purely be distance based. As proposed, a flight up to 225 kms could be capped at less than Rs 2,000 (Rs 1,770) or under Rs 8 per kilometre. And a flight up to 800 km would cost Rs 4,070 or Rs 5 per kilometre, the draft says.

    While the slabs for fixed wing aircraft are measured in kilometres, for chopper services it is measured on time. Therefore, for the helicopter service under regional connectivity scheme, the first 30 minutes are proposed to be capped at Rs 2,500. For a chopper service between 31 minutes to 35 minutes, the cap will rise by Rs 400 to touch Rs 2,900. And for a chopper ride of 56-60 minutes, the cap will be Rs 5,000.

    The draft proposal has sought comments for finalizing these airfares from the stakeholders. C.J. Anderson Authentic Jersey

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