Centre may bar airport ground-handling agencies majority-owned by foreign entities

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New Delhi | May 11, 2017 9:05 PM

The government plans to bar ground handling agencies that are majority-owned by foreign entities from operating at civil enclaves or airports belonging to the armed forces.

The proposal is part of the detailed set of draft regulations for ground handling services issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry. (Reuters)

The government plans to bar ground handling agencies that are majority-owned by foreign entities from operating at civil enclaves or airports belonging to the armed forces. The proposal is part of the detailed set of draft regulations for ground handling services issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

Besides, the ministry has proposed barring foreign airlines from carrying out “self-handling” at any domestic airport. The ministry has come out with the draft norms in accordance with the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP).

“A ground handling agency, with foreign ownership of more than 50 per cent of its paid-up capital shall not be allowed to undertake ground handling activities at civil enclaves,” as per the draft regulations.

Generally, civil enclaves are airports belonging to the armed forces where civilian aircraft operations are allowed.

However, all domestic scheduled airline operators, including helicopter service providers would be allowed to do self-handling at airports, including the civil enclaves.

Seeking to put in stricter requirements, the ministry has proposed that an airport operator should engage a ground handling agency only after “transparent bidding process”.

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At all airports, Air India’s subsidiary or joint venture would be permitted to match the “royalty/revenue share” offered by other ground handling agencies, as per the draft regulations.

“If there are more than one such ground handling agencies other than that of the airport operator, Air India’s subsidiary/ joint venture shall match the lowest royalty/ revenue offered by the other ground handlers,” the ministry said.

As per the NCAP, unveiled last year, “the existing ground handling policy/ instructions/ regulations will be replaced by a new framework”.

The ministry has also made it clear that hiring of employees through contractor or manpower supplier for ground handling services would not be permitted.

“At all airports, in order to overcome space and time constraints, the airport operator only shall provide adequate number of Common User Terminal Equipment (CUTE), Common User Self Service (CUSS), Baggage Reconciliation System (BRS) and Self Bag Drop (SBD),” it noted. Ground handling services include those pertaining to servicing and handling of aircraft as well as loading and unloading.

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