The government on Friday approved amendments as suggested by a parliamentary panel in the proposed bill to set up an Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).
The regulator would be mandated to create a level-playing field and foster competition among all major airports, encourage investment in airport facilities, and regulate tariffs of aeronautical services to protect passenger interests.
The amended Bill would be introduced in the coming Parliament session. It was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in September last year and referred to the departmental standing committee for further discussion.
The committee recommended that the regulator should have the powers to determine tariffs for non-aeronautical services such as car parking and recreational services.
It also is in favour of setting up a common fuel supply infrastructure under the overall jurisdiction of the regulator.
The Cabinet on Friday agreed to bring about amendments for a common jet fuel infrastructure and empowering AERA for core airside services, but decided against bringing the non-aeronautical services under the regulator’s purview.
The airport regulator will comprise a chairperson and two persons to be appointed by the government “from amongst persons having adequate knowledge and professional expertise in aviation, economic law, commerce or consumer affairs”, the government said.
Private airport developers welcomed the move and said a regulator is always better than the government deciding on day-to-day airport management matters.
“A regulator would bring in better and uniform policies and rates, but it needs to be seen how properly the issues of airport operators are taken care of,” said a spokesperson of Cochin International Airport Ltd.
The main functions of the regulator will be to determine tariff structure for aeronautical services taking into consideration, capital expenditure incurred and timely investment in improvement of airport facilities, to regulate service provided, its quality and other relevant factors and determine the cost for improving efficiency.
Besides, the regulator will also decide on economic and viable operation of major airports and determine the amount of development fees in respect of major airports.
It will also have penal powers.