Kurnool: Chairman of the parliamentary committee on civil aviation TG Venkatesh said that air connectivity to tier-2 cities in Andhra Pradesh would improve tourism as 40 RCS-UDAN routes have been identified. Of them, 28 have been operationalised. Efforts are on to convince airline operators to commence flight services, he said, and added that Kurnool-Vijayawada and Vijayawada-Nagarjunasagar routes are yet to be made functional. The committee has recommended enhancing low-cost regional air connectivity by promoting helicopter operations in the country, he said. It also recommended formulating a ‘seaplane policy’.
Venkatesh said that a status report on aviation connectivity in the country has been submitted to the Parliament. It has noted that regional connectivity scheme (RCS) has led to an increase in passenger traffic but air connectivity remains largely restricted to routes connecting major cities. It recommended extending the benefit period by two years from the existing three years to allow airlines to transform less profitable routes into revenue-generating ones. It also recommended operationalising existing inactive airstrips and airports owned by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and state governments.
The panel has recommended that the ministry of civil aviation should fix the upper limit for economy class fares in every sector, and mandate airlines to limit the cancellation charge collected from passengers to a maximum of 50% of the base fare, and refund the collected tax and fuel surcharge upon cancellation.
The committee noted that India’s low air cargo volumes are due to inadequate infrastructure. It recommended establishing dedicated cargo airports and developing new cargo hubs. India has in place an open sky policy for cargo, which enables foreign cargo carriers to freely operate services to and from any airport in India having customs and immigration facilities. It recommended amending the open sky policy for cargo to ensure a level-playing field for cargo operators.
On the post-Covid scenario and its impact on aviation sector, Venkatesh said that the committee has asked the ministry of civil aviation to suspend all dues and charges in the short term, make the sector eligible for priority sector lending and establish a professionally managed sectoral fund for providing structured debt to the airlines industry....