Indian carriers desirous of flying overseas once the current 5/20 norm is scrapped will be required to earn international flying rights by providing connectivity to underserved and unserved areas.
Under the current 5/20 norm, Indian airlines are required to have a minimum fleet of 20 aircraft and five years of operational experience for starting international services.
However, under the new policy, Indian airlines will be able to start overseas services if they have a minimum fleet of five aircraft and have accrued sufficient credits by deploying capacity on domestic routes. Though the five years of operations will be done away with, airlines would be given permission to fly overseas only after a year or two of domestic operations so that they are able to prove their credentials.
In cases where airlines are not willing to fly to smaller cities and towns they can buy minimum seats required for fulfilling regional route connectivity, from carriers flying to tier-2 and 3 towns. “You cannot allow new airlines to start domestic and international operations in a small gap of time. The carriers need to first get expertise on domestic operations before they go international. They (new Indian carriers) will first have to build up base, develop expertise before they fly global. But definitely the government plans to dilute the stringent 5/20 rule. That is being worked out,” a senior official in the ministry of civil aviation said. The government is expected to come out with new rules replacing the 5/20 norm before March 31.
While there are 12 metro, category I routes, airlines are mandated to deploy at least 10 % capacity on category II routes that are in the North East, J&K, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The MoCA has proposed to increase the 12 category I routes to 26 by bringing in 14 new routes, which reported air traffic of over five lakh fliers in 2013.
While enlarging the scope of category I, the ministry wants 20 % of the capacity deployed on it to be put on the revised category II routes. The weightage for flying to category II routes and other airports where there is no flying would be three and five times, respectively, higher than the points earned for flying on category I routes.