UPA “favoured” pvt airline carriers: Aviation Minister

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File photo of Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju

Claiming that few private airlines were “favoured” during the UPA government, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said that government is probing allegations in this regard.

Raju, who recently released the two year report card of his Ministry, said that domestic carriers lost out significant amount of revenue to foreign carriers in the previous government.

“Certain things done under UPA did not make sense. Wrongdoing is wrongdoing, whether it is intentional or unintentional. Law should take its course. There are agencies and they will do that. We are not interfering with it,” said the Aviation Minister who represents Telugu Desam Party in NDA government at centre.

Air India and Indian Air Lines

Air India and Indian Air Lines

On disapproving the 5/20 norm introduced during the UPA tenure, Raju wondered who has benefited from the rule while giving a clear indication that government is going to scrap it.

The airlines are divided over the continuance of 5/20 rule whereby only carriers with minimum 20 aircraft fleet and five years of operational experience can fly overseas.

“What is effectively 5/20? It has not allowed the Indian players to rise to their potential. On one side you have air service agreements with other countries while those countries are able to perform, you are not able to perform,” the Minister said.

On the proposed auctioning of additional traffic rights, Raju said it is in the draft civil aviation policy as Indian players are not able to perform on their air service agreements.

Air service agreements are between governments-to- government under which the airlines of participating countries are allowed to operate agreed number of flights. The government wants to make available additional flights outside of the agreements if there is a demand from a foreign airline through auction.

“Since there is also a demand by other countries, why don’t you try to make it a unilateral kind of thing with limited auction period so that this money could go for regional connectivity fund,” he said.

When told that no country in the world auctions bilateral rights, Raju clarified that government wants to auction only additional seats in a unilateral way.