Regional connectivity: Aviation policy likely to look at smaller aircraft

By: | Published: July 17, 2015 12:31 AM

Experts say flying larger aircraft like the Airbus A320 to smaller towns is an expensive affair

The long-pending civil aviation policy is likely to look at boosting regional connectivity and thereby look at ways to increase the use of smaller aircraft in commercial aviation. A senior civil aviation ministry official said, “We are looking at incentivising civil aviation through smaller aircraft.”

R N Choubey, secretary of civil aviation, said a few days back that his biggest challenge is to take flights beyond tier-I cities to tier-II and tier-III towns. The new aviation policy, which is already delayed by more than a couple of months, is being completely rewritten keeping these in mind, Choubey said. Flying larger aircraft like the Airbus A320 is an expensive affair to smaller towns, said experts. Sometimes, planes as small as a 12-seater aircraft might be a good option. For example in Madhya Pradesh, there are similar planes to connect smaller towns, but then many more are needed, pointed out the ministry official.

The policy will also look into making acquisition of planes cheaper, and see if it can be put as a part of the infrastructure sector, which will help in getting better subsidies. The ministry is also looking at creating special subsidies for regional carriers. The official also pointed out that the ministry will look at creating many smaller airports, to boost regional connectivity. “It does not make sense of large airlines like IndiGo and Air India to fly to smaller destination. We need to create a hub and spoke model — connecting small town with larger towns,” the official said.

India has about 140 airports, up from 40 operational in 2000. For regional connectivity to increase India will need anything between 200-300 smaller airports.

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