The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has taken its fight on the proposed changes to the international flying rules to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. FIA chairman and IndiGo airlines co-founder Rahul Bhatia has written a letter to the Prime Minister, stating that the removal of the 5/20 aviation rule will negate the level-playing field in Indian civil aviation.
State-owned Air India and the FIA, which comprises of IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and GoAir, want the 5/20 rule, which bars domestic airlines from starting international operations till they have a fleet of 20 aircraft and five years of flying experience, to stay. New startup airlines Vistara and AirAsia India are in favour of abolishing the rule.
Bhatia wrote that it was “disheartening to see that the Indian government might be planning to take steps that favour new entrants”, established and controlled by foreign airlines.
“At a time when incumbent airlines are committed to high-cost domestic networks due to the 5/20 rule and route dispersal guidelines (RDG), the removal of these rules will vitiate the level- playing field that exists in Indian civil aviation, and tectonically shift it in favour of foreign airline controlled new entrants, who have shown, at best, peripheral interest in serving the Indian domestic market,” Bhatia wrote to Modi on August 25.
“This view is also substantiated by the fact that at least one of the two new entrants has stopped its expansion in the domestic market beyond the mandatory requirement of five aircraft,” he said, while seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister.
The Indian airline industry, Bhatia wrote, continues to face a number of critical issues which have not been addressed over the years, despite repeated requests to the government.
“We wish to clarify that the increase in domestic connectivity over the years is solely attributable to the 5/20 rule, working in tandem with the RDG,” he said.