In a bid to further spread air connectivity in the country, the Civil Aviation Ministry has come up with a fresh policy to encourage airlines to operate in regional and remote areas by offering incentives to address their concerns on commercial viability of such operations.
Airlines can avail incentives like having own staff for ground-handling and exemption from landing and parking charges in 29 airports run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), including three from Karnataka: Mysore, Belgaum and Hubli.
Incentives can also be availed in airports in the North-east, except Guwahati and Bagdogra, in Jammu and Kashmir except Jammu, and in Lakshadweep and the Andamans.
Steps will be taken by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and airport operators to implement the “Policy on Regional and Remote Area Air Connectivity”, said a senior official.
Identifying the role of state governments in improving air connectivity, the policy has noted that states would be asked to reduce VAT on fuel lifted from the state, provide infrastructure for proper access to airports, waiver of duty on power charges and waiver on municipal charges, like property tax, for five years.
In a warning, the policy document said appropriate action, like proportionate reduction in seat allocation, would be initiated against airlines that do not comply with the requirements, as per the new guidelines.
The fresh guidelines have made changes in the Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDGs) of 1994 for remote-area connectivity programme.
The new rules want airlines to deploy 6 per cent of their capacity in such areas, while it was 10 per cent earlier.
Some stations in these areas, developing a passenger load factor of 80 per cent, are seen as the reason for the government revising the policy.
The policy document acknowledges that the RDGs have certainly provided initial impetus to air connectivity to remote areas.
Outlining the rationale for issuing fresh guidelines, the ministry said there is need for furthering air connectivity, and these areas need to be connected due to their potential for tourism, industrialisation and other strategic purposes.
The list of airports will be reviewed from time to time and will be revised, said the official.