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Faster and cheaper air travel soon!

Air travel in India would be faster, and possibly cheaper, as soon as the civil aviation and defence ministries work out ways for civilian aircraft to fly over India's restricted airspace.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2008 13:32 IST

Air travel in India would be faster, and possibly cheaper, as soon as the civil aviation and defence ministries work out ways for civilian aircraft to fly over the country's restricted airspace.

Aircraft would then be able to fly at higher altitudes, resulting in faster travel and lower fuel consumption. Air is thinner at higher altitudes, offering lower resistance to a plane's passage, thus increasing its speed.

"We have already initiated a pilot project in southern India called the Chennai Flights Information Region. We will soon extend this project in other regions. Once complete, we can fly civilian aircraft at higher altitudes," civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla told IANS.

The civil aviation and defence ministries are working on ways to jointly manage airspace in the country.

"This will be worked out soon and civilian aircraft will be allowed to use restricted airspace," Chawla said.

Currently, the defence ministry and the Indian Air Force (IAF) control more than 50 per cent of India's airspace. They have been strongly opposing the move to allow civilian aircraft into this space.

The civil aviation ministry, on the other hand, has been pitching for freeing more airspace for the smoother movement of civilian aircraft.

"The draft of the civil aviation policy had clearly stated that the Airport Authority of India would take care of the civilian air space and the defence ministry would control the restricted airspace," he pointed out.

"The security and control of restricted airspace would still be retained by the defence ministry and the IAF," he added.

Earlier, major differences had emerged between the IAF and the civil aviation ministry on the proposed civil aviation policy. The IAF had publicly expressed its displeasure at not being consulted at the drafting stage of the policy.

The defence ministry had also raised several objections to the proposed civil aviation policy, including a move to release more airspace meant exclusively for the IAF.

But the civil aviation ministry had said the policy should be converted to a "national aviation policy" rather than be restricted only to the civil aviation sector.