THE Indian government last week approved a new national civil aviation policy, introducing a slew of changes that encourages more connectivity and enables carriers to expand operations faster.
“The long-awaited civil aviation policy has some changes that should unlock regional connectivity as well as open up opportunities for carriers entering India,” said Sharat Dhall, president, Yatra.com.
India's national air carrier, Air India
“(The policy) should really drive growth in the hugely under-penetrated domestic air market and catalyse economic growth in the secondary and tertiary destinations.”
Agreeing, Kousik Bhattacharya, head of marketing and B2C at VIA, said: “We predict an increase in airline bookings and a spurt in flight movement from tier 2 and 3 cities. This clearly spells better business opportunities for OTAs as well.”
One of the major changes is the abolishment of the 5/20 rule, where a domestic airline is allowed to operate internationally only after flying for five years domestically and operate at least 20 aircraft.
The new formulation allows airlines, both new and old, to commence international operations if they operate 20 aircraft or 20 per cent of total capacity, whichever is higher, for domestic operations.
“The move from 5/20 to 0/20 is a focussed initiative aimed at encouraging fresh entrants and infusing fresh blood into the aviation industry, ensuring a catalysing effect for travel and tourism as a whole,” commented Indiver Rastogi, president & country head – corporate travel, Thomas Cook India.
Also positive with the changes is Amber Dubey, partner and head, aerospace and defence, KPMG India, who said: “If the government and the industry work together keeping national interest in mind, there’s no reason why India can't achieve its vision of becoming the third largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030.”