5 challenges for the new aviation minister | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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5 challenges for the new aviation minister

Jun 05, 2024 07:58 PM IST

The Lok Sabha elections verdict means that the allies have bargaining power and will the Civil Aviation ministry be one of the bargains?

As the Lok Sabha results started coming in, it was clear that the exit polls were proved wrong. By the end of the day, though, while the Bharatiya Janata Party may not have won a simple majority on its own, it could possibly form the government for the third consecutive time under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The incidents and accidents at such places have led to injuries or loss of precious lives.(REUTERS file)
The incidents and accidents at such places have led to injuries or loss of precious lives.(REUTERS file)

If news reports are to be believed, there already is a 100-day plan in place for the next term. It is too early to tell how the ministry will be structured. There was a change from Modi 1.0 to Modi 2.0. In this case, Gen VK Singh, the incumbent Minister of State has not contested the election and Jyotiraditya Scindia has been holding additional portfolios apart from Civil Aviation. The verdict means that the allies have bargaining power and will the Civil Aviation ministry be one of the bargains?

Modi 1.0’s first Minister of Civil Aviation was Ashok Gajapathi Raju from the TDP until he resigned after the TDP pulled out of support. While it was possible for the government to sustain without allies, 2024 is different and the agenda may see a difference.

Here are the top five areas that may need the new minister's attention.

Capacity augmentation

We have some of the best airport terminals in the world and those which keep winning various awards. However, a little deeper, one digs out the lack of standardisation and long queues at security and immigration. As terminal capacity increases, these services which are beyond the control of the airport operator - have become bottlenecks and need urgent resolution. While these services do not come under the ministry, taking it up with the right ministries is where the ministry of civil aviation has to step up.

DigiYatra

While the world may be relying on us for their IT solutions, users of Digi Yatra had to uninstall the app and reinstall for an update. The exact reasons may remain a mystery but there is a need to rapidly implement DigiYatra across airports and terminals.

The speed of implementation has to go up many folds to see a difference in queues to get in at the terminals and ease out the passenger issues.

ATF in GST

The demand for one nation one tax on ATF and later its inclusion in GST is as old as GST if not more. Will the government finally bite the bullet and get everyone onboard for the inclusion of Aviation Turbine Fuel in GST? The ATF costs range from 35% to 40% of all expenses for an airline and a simplified tax regime will not only lower the costs, it will be more equitable and possibly attract more flights to airports which currently have high taxes on ATF.

Training facilities and pilot issues

The government walked the talk on establishing Flight Training Academies, but subsequent incidents have shown some of them have poor quality. The incidents and accidents at such places have led to injuries or loss of precious lives.

This has led to a lot of cadet pilots opting for foreign shores for training, thus increasing the cost of training and delaying the payback period for the individual. While most airlines have a cadet flying program, it also is in tie up with some foreign entity in most cases. The government should incentivise the airline to have a tie up with an Indian Flight Training Academy with training completed completely in India.

The new FDTL norms which were to be operational from June have been pushed indefinitely.

Hub

Both the airlines and the ministry have talked about creating hubs. Air India has always had a hub at Delhi, it is now effectively building a good connectivity which helps with International to International transfers.

Infrastructure has been one of the focus areas for this government, however new terminals have come up regularly - some of the terminals which were inaugurated by the Hon. Prime Minister before the election are yet to be operationalised.

Tail Note

The government has talked about plans of having 100 new airports by 2024 as part of RCS - UDAN. We are in 2024, the year is not over yet - but it looks highly impossible that it would happen.

All eyes now shift to the government formation and allocation of ministries. Will the prime minister choose continuity or will aviation be one of the bargain ministries for the allies?

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