Offer sops to woo airlines, govt told

Offer sops to woo airlines, govt told

IDD plans to propose underwriting seats to sustain operation at minor airports

Offer sops to woo airlines, govt told

 The Infrastructure Development Department (IDD), in an effort to woo airline companies to operate at minor airports in the State, has planned to submit a proposal to the government for offering the much-needed support to the companies to make their operation at these airports sustainable.

The IDD wants the government to either underwrite a certain number of seats on every flight or reimburse a portion of operational cost on flying-mile-basis for a fixed duration. This will be over and above four per cent VAT concession on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) already offered to the airlines operating in the State, IDD Secretary Rajkumar Khatri said.

About five small airlines, including Rahi Air, Ventura Airlines and Master Aero Space, have shown interest in operating at minor airports in the State. The support is planned to be extended for only intra-State flights.

“Recently, we held a meeting with the stakeholders to understand their problems and needs. Based on their feedback, a proposal will soon be placed before the government,” Khatri said.

The ailing Kingfisher Airlines operated flights between Bangalore and Mysore between 2010 and 2011. Currently, three minor airports – Mysore, Hubli and Belgaum – are lying idle. It is for nearly one year the new airport at Mandakalli in Mysore has been lying idle.

Besides, construction of two more airports – in Gulbarga and Shimoga – are likely to be completed by this year end and the government has initiated the process to construct minor airports in Hassan, Bellary and Bijapur. All these airports, it is feared, will meet the same fate as that of Mysore airport, if necessary steps are not taken to attract airline companies to operate flights from these places.

Khatri said the airlines also want the government to persuade the Union government to lift the seating restriction on smaller aircraft. As per the rule book, a 12-seater aircraft can fill only nine seats. The airlines want this restriction to go, he added.

MP, Gujarat model

The secretary also said the Madhya Pradesh government has already decided to underwrite a certain number of seats of smaller aircraft which fly within the State. Similarly, the Gujarat government recently took the decision to reimburse a portion of operational cost on flying-mile-basis.

“We are planning to offer the support for the first three years. And it would be made mandatory for the company, which avails support, to operate flights for at least three more years without the aid. This will assure six years of flight operation at minor airports,” he explained.