Govt plans converting unused airports into SEZs

Govt plans converting unused airports into SEZs

Use of aerodromes for dismantling old aircraft also on cards

Govt plans converting unused airports into SEZs

Some unused airports may be converted into Special Economic Zones (SEZ) where aircraft leasing companies showcase their planes to potential customers.

The government is also contemplating using aerodromes for plane-breaking or dismantling of old aircraft with Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey saying that these are “exciting ideas”.

“I met someone who said that we have so many airports in the country. Is it possible for us to declare some of them as SEZs (Special Economic Zones) and allow them to be used for two things. One for leasing companies all over the world to come and park the aircraft. We are doing well in ship breaking and he was saying can’t we do something in plane-breaking,” he asked.

He also said the ministry would explore ways to reduce the cost of leasing aircraft as it would help make the domestic aviation market more attractive.

The Union government had unveiled new civil aviation policy on June 15 in which it provided the sector several measures to enhance regional connectivity.

Choubey also said the ministry is taking steps to amend the existing policy for grant of Air Operator Permit (AOP) following the government’s decision to allow 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in domestic airlines.

Presently, AOP will be given to a company only if its chairman and two-third directors are Indian citizens and its effective control is with Indian nationals. With the 100% FDI, there is a need to align the existing policy with the new decision.

“So, if there is something when higher FDI investment is not resulting in AOP being given, then the AOP requirement will be to that extent will be amended,” Choubey said.

He also said if the crude oil price remains soft for the next 4-5 years, then regional air connectivity would find very strong roots. “Where will you find the possibility of 20% growth rate in the next 10 years. It is very exciting,” he said.

However, he struck a note of caution saying it needs to be ensured that the country’s aviation sector stays ahead of the growth curve.

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