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    “The government’s role should be of a constructive collaborator, rather than a restrictive regulator”: Jyotiraditya M Scindia

    Published on October 24, 2021

    New Delhi : “It is an interesting and important time in the history of civil aviation in India and across the world as no other sector has been hit as hard as the civil aviation industry. As it is said, ‘Sacchai ki jeet hoti hai (truth always prevails)’, Indian government has shown that we have weathered the storm, bounced back strongly, can stand up to any challenge and can change any adversity to opportunity.” said Mr. Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Minister of Civil Aviation, Government of India while speaking at the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI)’s 8th National Forum that was held virtually today, on “Reviving the Economy: Reimagine. Reboot. Reform”.

    Mr. Scindia said there is a need to focus on three levels to boost demand in the sector- inclusion, access and affordability. “Our regional flight fares are already competing with second class AC fares in the above 10 hour travel time on rail today. In the next three to five years, the number of people travelling by air will be much higher than rail in second class AC and above.”

    The strategy of the minister for the next 60 days will be tier 2 and 3 cities where the ministry has committed to setup five new airports, six new heliports and 50 new Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) routes in order to increase the access and inclusion possibility across the civil aviation sector.

    Mr. Scindia explained that a few days ago, the ministry announced a new helicopter policy in Uttarakhand, Dehradun, for the nation which included scrapping of all parking and landing charges for helicopters across the country, setting up a dedicated helicopter acceleration cell to look at greater helicopter urgency issues and putting together a booklet each across 650 districts that looks at setting up helipads.

    The aim is to have at least one helipad in every district of India. Helicopter Emergency Management Services (HEMS), prevalent in all developed economies across the world, will help transport a patient who has met with an accident in golden seven minutes to a hospital. Helipad will be built and the service will be started in Delhi, Mumbai, Bhatinda, and Chandigarh Expressways soon. We are scaling up international flights from 15 to 35 flights for UK and restarting flights with Canada.

    Through Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik, the ministry has been able to connect to partially-served to unserved cities like Jharsuguda, Dibrugarh, Darbhanga etc. where there were no airports. With airports setup in the last two years, the air traffic has increased to about 1.5 lakh people per week in some of these locations.

    Speaking on the supply side, Mr. Scindia highlighted two parameters – viability and innovation, which should be offered to a customer. The government’s role should be of a constructive collaborator, rather than a restrictive regulator.

    He further added, “We have setup nine advisory groups around the civil aviation space of which two advisory groups are for airlines and airport operators, four advisory groups are for flying training organisations, MROs, cargo handlers and an additional one as well. Three other advisory groups are for related industries i.e. regional airlines and helicopters, academia and consultancy.”

    The minister has personally written to the chief minister of 22 states to reduce VAT on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF). Four states and UTs i.e. Andaman & Nicobar Islands, J&K, Uttarakhand and Haryana have issued VAT on ATF. Telangana and Kerala lowered the tax and their connectivity increased by 15%. He has had dialogue with six other states. This ensures a transformed economy.

    In his opening remarks, Mr. Ajay Khanna, Forum Chairman & Co-Founder, PAFI and Group – Global Chief Strategic & Public Affairs, Jubilant Bhartia Group, “PAFI aims to align business, society and government on long term priorities. It also aims to build trust between industry and stakeholders. I am deliberately highlighting these two objectives because within a month or two of Mr. Jyotiraditya M Scindia’s taking over as the minister of civil aviation he had set up three groups engaging various stakeholders on long term priority for civil aviation which is an enormous effort.”

    Dr Subho Ray, President, PAFI and President, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) welcomed the speakers. Mr. Virat Bhatia, Vice President, PAFI and Managing Director, Apple India thanked the minister for sharing his insights and gave the closing remarks. The session was moderated by Ms. Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC TV18.