The Union Cabinet is likely to take up the much-awaited civil aviation policy on Thursday amid indications that the government could ease the norms for launching overseas operations by domestic airlines.
Government sources who did not wish to be identified indicated that the current norms of a minimum of five years of operations and a fleet of at least 20 aircraft for flying abroad were likely to be eased.
However, the government may not allow a blanket clearance. The new norms would depend on the need of the country, the routes that exist and the capability of the Indian carriers to handle the specific routes.
The policy would also contain a “Vision 2020” document that would lay down a road map for aviation in light of the recent boom in the sector in the country.
The Vijay Mallya-promoted Kingfisher Airlines, which recently acquired 26 per cent in low-cost carrier Air Deccan, is keen on starting international operations. Mallya has said Kingfisher Airlines plans to launch non-stop flights between Bangalore and San Fransisco and to New York, besides flying to London.
The proposed foreign direct investment (FDI) norms are, however, unlikely to considered by the Cabinet as it is part of an overall FDI policy that is currently being reviewed by the government. The civil aviation ministry is in favour of relaxing the FDI norms, particularly in areas such as such sea-planes, helicopter services and non-scheduled operations.
The policy might also contain steps to restructure the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which could involve hiving off of some of the air transport-related services as subsidiaries, creation of a separate entity for air traffic management services under government ownership and strengthening metereological and other services at airports.
The government is also keen on giving final shape to a policy to promote "merchant greenfield airports". Merchant airports will be private airports built on private lands within permissible civil aviation parameters and air-traffic management regime.
There are about 300 airstrips in the country. While the Ministry of Defence owns some of them, the civilian airports are owned by the AAI.