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India grabs aviation woes by the horns
Shekhar Niyogi, Kolkata, June 20, 2014

THE Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is pushing through concrete plans to overhaul the aviation sector barely a month into the new government's term, while also taking steps to address the downgrade of India's safety ranking by US authorities (TTG Asia e-Daily, February 4, 2014).


Airports of Indore, Bhopal and Raipur will be allowed international flights by 1Q2015, while the Airports Authority of India has identified 50 airports across India to be built on a low-cost model. A contract for the modernisation of Port Blair airport in Andaman & Nicobar Islands will be awarded soon.


Rita Dhanwatay, director of Nagpur-based Ritz Safari, commented: “More international flights arriving to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will cut costs for inbound tourists.


“This will spread inbound tourist footfalls to a larger geographic area in India, and open up new destinations and products.”


MoCA has also engaged Washington-based Wicks Group to aid the upgrade in India’s air safety administrations and operations over a one-year period, and ordered the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to create IT platforms for e-governance and digitise most of DGCA’s operations.


Validity periods for pilot licences are also to be extended from two to five years.


Rajendra Churiwala, director-eastern region, IATA Agents Association of India, said: “Conforming to US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) top category norms must be a priority as Indian aviation cannot afford a second-grade image while courting greater inbound tourism. Air India and Jet Airways were restricted in their expansion plans because of the downgrade earlier this year.”


MoCA will approach the FAA within 100 days after upgrading its regulatory control system.


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