New Delhi, March 22: The government is planning to revise its regional jetliner policy after airlines that have been given rights to operate scheduled flights within a region sought permission to fly to small airports in other regions.
Regional airlines are allowed to operate flights to or from one metropolitan city in an assigned region. In south India, however, they can fly to all the three metros: Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
MDLR Airlines, which has got regional airline status for north India, is trying to get permission to operate flights between Calcutta and Ranchi and Ranchi and Delhi. The airline used to operate flights in these routes as a non-scheduled or charter carrier.
Inter-regional connectivity is a grey area … we are still talking to the authorities, said U.K. Bose, chief operating officer of MDLR. The current norms do not specify whether MDLR can operate flights to another region, as it has become a scheduled carrier.
Civil aviation ministry officials said they were open to the idea of changes in the policy if airlines could present a case that proved that inter-regional connectivity between small towns would help ease city traffic or that there was a big demand for it.
The government has an open mind and will study the situation, they said.
Regional airlines are eyeing the mining regions in eastern and central India. They say the regions need to be connected to Calcutta and other cities and markets.
The airlines that have permission to fly to the Northeast want to go beyond Calcutta and link up with northern India.
Even small carriers no longer believe in hub-and-spoke operation where they would feed passengers to another national carrier for onward journeys … Passengers also believe direct flights are the more cost effective. This is a global trend, said Robin Pathak, former director of Indian Airlines.
Some of the companies that have got regional airline status are MDLR, Paramount, Zav Air, Jagsons, Star Aviation and Premier.
None of the big players, such as Jet, Air India or Kingfisher want to get into this business as they are unsure of its profitability.