The Telegraph
Sunday , January 6 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sops for remote area flights

New Delhi, Jan. 5: The government is considering a proposal to provide incentives to private airlines operating flights on loss-making routes to enhance air connectivity in remote parts of the country, particularly in the Northeast.

According to the civil aviation ministry, none of the private airlines have shown interest to start operations to interiors of the northeastern region.

“Only Air India has a few flights and even though in the past we have asked private airlines to start similar operations none of them have shown any interest and claim that the routes are unprofitable,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official.

With the connectivity situation worsening in the region, the ministry has decided to offer concessions such as cheaper aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and lower parking and landing charges to all airlines offering to fly to these regions.

The ministry is also planning to meet representatives of private airlines to chalk out plans to enhance operations in the region.

“We plan to ask them to get into tieups with the state governments. If the plans fall in place we would give them a number of concessions so that the services are economically viable for the airlines,” added the official.

In the 12th Five Year Plan, the Planning Commission highlighted the importance of better air connectivity with the northeastern region and said a new policy centered on small aircraft was required to implement a hub-and-spoke model.

“With more frequent flights in and out of this geographically difficult region, there may be a considerable reduction in the physical exclusion of the region. The development of existing airports and the operationalisation of defunct ones would not only make air links feasible between the state capitals but also with neighbouring countries,” it said.

The commission also observed that the Guwahati airport should be developed as a major gateway to Southeast Asia, both for passenger and freight traffic.

The civil aviation ministry is also planning to promote regional airlines by liberalisng policies and providing better infrastructure facilities.

According to civil aviation ministry officials, despite some degree of success of route dispersal guidelines in ensuring air connectivity to the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and other places, flights have largely been confined to a few airports in these regions.

“The air connectivity is largely concentrated in routes connecting state capitals. Air connectivity has not increased proportionately in the interiors and far off places,” said a ministry official.