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The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has written to the Election Commission (EC), quashing BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's demand to not issue the Air Operator's Permit (AOP) to AirAsia India till completion of the ongoing electoral code of conduct.
The ministry, in a letter to the EC, said that the application of AirAsia India was submitted before the commencement of the electoral code of conduct.
A copy of the letter has been reviewed by FE. The electoral code of conduct is a set of rules which includes various guidelines on the code of conduct for political parties before and during the elections, which include barring government from taking any policy decision that can influence the voters after the announcement of the election date.
“In the view of the comments furnished by the DGCA, the ministry is of the view that – the application of M/s Air Asia (India) Pvt Ltd for the grant of Air 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 Air Operator's permit is not a new scheme and does not involve any sanctions or expenditure from the government,” it said.
“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 Honorable 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, 2014 10.30 AM".
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 license. Meanwhile, AirAsia India is currently awaiting for the Air Operating Permit from the DGCA which will take the airline one step towards launching its operations in India.