Civil aviation ministry grounds Swamys charge against AirAsia permit

Written by Rhik Kundu | Mumbai | Updated: Apr 9 2014, 11:19am hrs
The civil aviation ministry has written to the Election Commission countering BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's charge that granting air operator's permit (AOP) to AirAsia at this stage would be violation of the model code of conduct, which is in force till the electoral process is on.

Rejecting Swamy's contention, the ministry said the application for AOP by AirAsia was submitted before the code of conduct came into force. Normally, new policy decisions that may favour a section of either industry, business or politics are not taken once the code of conduct comes into force.

However, any policy decision that has been taken prior to it can be administratively processed.

This is the line taken by the aviation ministry since the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approved the deal in March 2013.

In the view of the comments furnished by the DGCA, the ministry is of the view that the application of Air Asia (India) for the grant of operator permit was submitted to DGCA on 18.10.2013 i.e. much before the commencement of model code of conduct and it is not a new application, the letter said. Issuance of the permit is not a new scheme and does not involve any sanctions or expenditure from the government, it added.

The issuance of air operator's permit is subject to the applicant company fulfilling all conditions and requirements for the same as per laid down rules and regulation and its outcome cannot be stated at this point of time since the process is still on. The decision shall be subject to the decision of the Delhi High court, it added.

The Election Commission had on March 24 written to the civil aviation ministry seeking its view on Swamy's demand that AirAsia should not be issued the air operator's permit till the electoral code of conduct is in force.

The BJP leader had earlier said in his complaint to the EC that he had written to the civil aviation ministry on March 6, stating that it would be "wholly invalid and ultra vires the model code if AirAsia joint venture as well as the Tata-Singapore proposals for new airlines receive the airline operators permit after March 5".

In regards to the Tata-Singapore airline joint venture (Tata-SIA), the letter by the civil aviation ministry to EC said that The ministry has received the security clearance of the company (Tata-Singapore airline) and its directors from the ministry of home affairs as of 24.03.2014 and is in the process of considering the application for initial NOC to operate scheduled airlines.

If Tata-Singapore airline gets the initial NOC, they will have to obtain airline operator's permit from the DGCA before undertaking actual operations as per extant rules and regulations in this regard, it added.

Tata-SIA has recently got a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the civil aviation ministry to start a full-service airline. According to industry sources, the airline company is currently planning to apply to the DGCA for a flying licence. AirAsia India is waiting for the air operating permit from the DGCA, which will take the airline one step towards launching its operations in India.

EC gives road min go-ahead for Uttarakhand, HP plans

New Delhi, April 8: The Election Commission has allowed the road ministry to go as per its scheduled plan for the issue of sanctions for national highway proposals in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

In a letter to road secretary Vijay Chhibber, the commission said it has no objection for the issue of sanctions for national highway proposals in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh. The ministry sought EC's nod regarding the issue of sanctions as the model code of conduct is in force due to the general elections.

The ministry has a plan to award almost two dozen of projects in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh.

"These projects are at various stages of awards and the issue of letter of awards is necessary for the contractors to begin work," a road ministry official said.

Timsy Jaipuria