The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt vows fast action on plane purchase

New Delhi, Dec. 14 (PTI): The government today indicated an early decision on the proposals of fleet acquisition by Air-India and Indian Airlines and privatisation of the four metro airports.

At an international conference on aviation and tourism here today, deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani said “quick decisions” on aviation and tourism should not only be taken but implemented also. “We have to take decisions without delay. In these matters, we should see that quick decisions are not only taken, but implemented also.”

Civil aviation minister Shahnawaz Hussain said his ministry has already sent the fleet acquisition proposals of the two airlines to the Cabinet and will be sending the proposal on airport privatisation next week.

Advani also said that in the two areas of civil aviation and tourism “an integrated policy is imperative” to synergise the potentials of both the sectors. It is necessary to synergise the efforts of the government, the people and the private sector.

The deputy Prime Minister said there is enormous tourism potential in India which has to be exploited to the fullest extent.

Hussain said the decisions of the boards of Indian Airlines and Air-India to acquire 43 and 17 aircraft, respectively, had been “sent on Friday by the (civil aviation) ministry to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) without any changes”.

The CCS is likely to meet soon, he said. “The government does not want to delay this proposal,” he added.

He said the proposal to privatise the airports at Calcutta, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai through the joint venture route, would also be sent to the Cabinet “within a week”.

Hussain said his ministry has also permitted Indian passport-holders to make use of the chartered flights in and out of India, a facility earlier meant only for foreign passport-holders. “Of course, the chartered flights have to operate to airports which have customs and immigration facilities,” he added.

Describing the fleet acquisition and airport privatisation as the “biggest in the world at the moment” when the global aviation industry was reeling under a financial crisis, civil aviation secretary K Roy Paul said, “We should have the expressions of interests (on airport privatisation) within a month or so”.

The minister also said the new civil aviation policy would be announced soon.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways today said it was interested in bidding for privatisation of four metro airports in the country and has formed a joint venture with an Indian company for this purpose.

The flagship carrier of Qatar would also start flying to Kochi from March, its fourth destination in India, Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, told newspersons on the sidelines of the aviation and tourism summit here.

He said three flights would be started to Kochi with two flights with an Airbus A320-200 and one with an airbus A300-600 aircraft, offering a total of 500 seats. Qatar Airways, at present has 16 weekly flights to India.

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