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26 Mar, 2012

India To Open 11 New Int’l Routes, Rejects Payment of EU Carbon Tax

India has formally served notice that it will not pay the EU carbon tax. The announcement to Parliament by the Indian Minister of Civil Aviation Ch Ajit Singh on March 22 was one of a series of moves by the Indian aviation industry to alleviate the plight of what is now being officially described as an “ailing industry.”

The Ministry has also announced that Indian airlines (both government and private) will be given 660 additional frequencies in summer 2012 and winter 2012-13 to Dar-es-Salaam, Guangzhou, Yangon; Tashkent; Ho-Chi-Minh City; Hanoi; Almaty; Macao; Addis Ababa; Melbourne and Sydney. This huge increase in capacity will give a significant boost to Indian outbound travel.

Details of the moves:

Carbon Tax

March 22: Ch Ajit Singh, the Minister of Civil Aviation informed Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) in a written reply that though the European Union has directed Indian carriers to submit emission details of their aircraft by 31.3.2012, no Indian carrier is submitting them in view of the position of the Government. Hence the imposition of carbon tax does not arise.

The Minister said that pursuant to the adoption of the Moscow Declaration of 22nd February, 2012 by over 30 countries on the European Union-Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS), a basket of measures are available to the Government as counter measures, and depending upon EU’s consideration of the resolution of the Moscow Declaration, appropriate retaliatory measures would be undertaken by all signatories to the Declaration and also other nations wishing to join.

An Inter-Ministerial Working Group Formed to Look into Ailing Aviation Industry

March 22: Mr. Singh informed Rajya Sabha that an Inter-Ministerial Working Group has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation to identify the factors causing stress in civil aviation sector and suggest solutions. Other members of the working group include senior representatives of the ministries of Finance, Petroleum and Natural Gas, and Financial Services, the Director General of Foreign Trade and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Minister said that based on returns filed by airlines with Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), all scheduled airlines except IndoGo operating in the country are incurring losses. Industry sources has placed Rs 26,000 crores operational losses in 2007-2010 periods and Rs 10,000 crores loss anticipated in 2011-12. The spiraling cost of Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), global economic slow down and low yield due to intense competition and consequent widening gap between revenue and expenses have contributed greatly to losses.

Ch Singh said that the Working Group held its first meeting on 21.12.2011. Although no financial package for airlines has been proposed, the Working Group has recommended, inter-alia, rationalization of the VAT on ATF, permission to foreign airlines to invest in the domestic airlines undertakings, allow airlines to import ATF directly for their own consumption, revision of fare structure by airlines so that costs of operations are covered.

New Routes for National and other Indian Scheduled Carriers

March 23: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has decided to open 11 new International Sectors under Bilateral Air Services Agreements (ASAs) to the national carrier Air India as well as to other Indian Scheduled Carriers. These Sectors are: Mumbai-Dar-es-Salaam; Delhi-Guangzhou; Delhi-Yangon; Delhi-Tashkent; Delhi-Ho-Chi-Minh City; Delhi-Hanoi; Delhi-Almaty; Delhi-Macao; Delhi-Addis Ababa ; Delhi-Melbourne; Delhi-Sydney.

Ch Ajit Singh, after reviewing the utilization of traffic rights under Bilaterals, has decided to allow the Indian Scheduled Carriers including Air India to utilize the Bilaterals till such time they reach the maximum permissible limit under Air Service Agreements (ASAs). While finalizing the Guidelines to ensure optimum utilization of Traffic Rights, it was agreed that Air India’s operational plan would receive due consideration in allocation of the traffic rights and entitlements.

A total of 660 new services have been allocated to the Indian carriers over summer 2012 and wuwinter 2012-13.

The services of Air India (AI) and Air India Express (AIE) will increase from 430 services per week during winter 2011 to 471 services per week in summer 2012. These services will include increase of services from 94 to 109 to Dubai, from 39 to 47 to Abu Dhabi, from 33 to 49 services to Sharjah, from 12 to 21 services to Doha and from 42 to 48 services to Saudi Arabia. The services of Air India and Air India Express will further increase from 471 services per week in summer 2012 to 577 in winter 2012.

The private carriers have been allocated a total of 513 services in addition to their existing allocation on various international routes in summer and winter 2012, as follows:

Spice Jet will run 98 services per week in summer and additional 90 services per week in winter meaning thereby an addition of 188 services per week in winter 2012;

Jet Airways has been allocated 102 services per week in summer and additional 98 services per week in winter meaning thereby an addition of 200 services per week in winter 2012;

Indigo has got 84 services per week in summer and 41 services per week in winter totaling to 125 services per week in winter 2012.

Revision of Route Dispersal Guidelines Recommended for Better Air Connectivity of Smaller Cities and Towns

March 22: Ch Ajit Singh informed Rajya Sabha that to ensure air connectivity to smaller cities and town, Government has laid down Route Dispersal Guidelines wherein it has been made mandatory for the airlines to deploy certain minimum percentage of Available Seat Kilometers (ASKM) deployed on Trunk Routes onto smaller cities and towns.

The Minister said that a Committee constituted under the Chairmanship of Mr. Rohit Nandan has examined the present Route Dispersal Guidelines and suggested measures to ensure better connectivity for smaller cities and town. The Committee has recommended revision of Route Dispersal Guidelines. The report of the Committee has been placed on the website of the Ministry inviting comments of stake holders. Comments received from various organizations are being studied.

Civil Aviation Ministry Constitutes a Committee on the Rights of Passengers with Disabilities and Reduced Mobility

March 22: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has constituted a Committee on the ‘Rights of Passengers with Disabilities and Reduced Mobility’ under the Chairmanship of Mr. G. Asok Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation to look into the problems of persons with disabilities in undertaking air travel and suggest how to improve the facilities for them.

The Committee has been asked to give its report in eight weeks for consideration of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The representatives of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Airport Authority of India (AAI), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), representatives of airlines and organizations involved for working of persons with disability/reduced mobility will be the other members.

The Committee will look into the different aspects related to differently-abled people and persons with disability. These include modification in the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) in view of the improved guidelines adopted in other developed countries and resolution of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), inconvenience faced by persons with disabilities right from the stage of booking of tickets; arrival at the airport; checking-in, issues related to location and design of facilities like toilets, wheel chairs, check-in counters etc; issues at security checking. Boarding of aircraft; seating in aircraft; disembarking; collection of luggage etc would also be reviewed by the Committee.