Forward movement for Indian aviation industry in 2013

Dec 29 2013, 13:20 IST
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Boeing 787 Dreamliners Boeing 787 Dreamliners
SummaryCurrently, airlines which have operated on domestic routes for five years and have 20 aircraft can fly abroad.

Barring Air India's troubles, Indian aviation industry in 2013 gradually started emerging out of a long-drawn crisis with air traffic on an upward growth trajectory and major policy changes in areas like FDI starting to have their impact.

New airlines would start flying on Indian skies in 2014 that would also mark 100 years of commercial aviation to commemorate the first flight by a paying passenger on a scheduled airline that crossed Tampa Bay in Florida (US) in 1914.

The new year would also see new appointees taking over at the top levels in the Civil Aviation Ministry, like the posts of Secretary and chief of the aviation regulator DGCA.

A year after the government changed its policy to allow foreign airlines pick up stake in Indian carriers, tangible results in the form of the Jet-Etihad deal, AirAsia India and Tata-Singapore Airlines joint ventures, were seen in 2013 which are expected to bloom next year.

While AirAsia India may get its air operator's permit (AOP or flying licence) by January end, the Tata-SIA venture, which has applied for a no-objection certificate from Civil Aviation Ministry, may take a few more months to get its AOP.

However, hiccups like court cases and certain regulatory clearances still remain major hurdles for these projects.

2013 also saw a major policy shift in opening up of six major airports, developed by state-run Airports Authority of India, to private partnership. Though requests for proposals have been issued for private and foreign parties to participate in the process, the concession agreements are yet to be finalised.

Continuing with its liberalisation spree, Civil Aviation Ministry is also considering moving the Union Cabinet to change the rules to allow Indian carriers to fly abroad. Currently, only those airlines are allowed to do so which have operated on domestic routes for five years and have 20 aircraft.

Air India's troubles seemed to be unending as it saw its entire fleet of newly-acquired Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded for almost four months since mid-January along with the entire global fleet, due to a battery fault in two of these planes owned by Japanese airlines.

The Dreamliners, which Air India expects would help in a major way in its cost-reduction and turnaround plans, suffered a series of glitches leading Boeing to position technical and engineering teams in India to work with their AI counterparts to repair them and carry out upgrades.

Despite these problems, Air India improved its overall performance,

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