Govt unveils draft aviation policy

Govt unveils draft aviation policy

Terming UPA's aviation policy as "opaque", government today brought in a fresh draft recommending listing of state-run Airports Authority of India and chopper firm Pawan Hans on stock exchanges and steps to beef up Air India operations, hinting at its stake sale too.

Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju unveiled the draft civil aviation policy which also proposes to enhance regional air connectivity, develop six major metro airports as international hubs, create more airports through PPP mode, rationalise jet fuel cost, promote air cargo, MRO and helicopter operations and improve passenger facilitation.

The rule, which allows an Indian airline to fly abroad only after they have flown domestic for five years and have a 20-aircraft fleet, would also be reviewed, he said.

The draft would now be open for wider consultation with all stakeholders, with the Minister saying he hoped to finalise and implement it by January next year.

"If a policy existed (during UPA rule), it was opaque. We want to develop a transparent policy because opaqueness leads itself to allegations. This government wants to work in a transparent manner," Raju said in response to questions.

On the proposal to list mini ratna AAI and Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited (PHHL) on stock exchanges to "improve transparency and efficiency", he said, "AAI will be corporatised, followed by listing in the stock exchanges in order to improve efficiency and transparency. Listing of PHHL would also be undertaken with the same objective."

"PHHL's listing straightaway might make sense. For AAI also, that is possible," the Minister said.

A senior official later said no time frame has yet been fixed for by when the two entities would be listed or what percentage of government holding would be divested in them.

Regarding privatisation of Air India, he said this was a suggestion made by "certain sections. While some say privatisation is a solution, others say it should remain with the public sector. Another section says the airline should be managed professionally by professional bodies."

"Why should we close our options? Let us take a conscious decision," he said.

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