Does 5/20 norm have any scientific meaning, wonders Ashok Gajapathi Raju

By: | Published: January 23, 2016 5:30 AM

At a time when the government is still undecided on international flying norms for domestic carriers, Union Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today wondered whether the "5/20" rule has any "scientific meaning".

At a time when the government is still undecided on international flying norms for domestic carriers, Union Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today wondered whether the “5/20” rule has any “scientific meaning”.

Under the 5/20 regulation, only those local airlines having five years operational experience and a minimum of 20 aircraft can fly overseas.

While the proposed civil aviation policy has suggested three options on 5/20, including retaining it or scrapping it, the airlines industry is sharply divided over the issue.

“5/20 is obviously something that is pulling Indians down… Does it have any scientific meaning?” Raju, who is the Civil Aviation Minister, said on the sidelines of an aviation conference here.

His remarks also come at a time when his Ministry is in advanced stages of finalising the new civil aviation policy.

Raju said he had an interaction with airlines to understand their concerns about 5/20 norm.

“Basically, they had rough (time) in the past. Their books are not good… When the new players come in, their books will be clear. So, we will be at a disadvantage,” the Minister said citing concerns raised by various airlines over the issue.

According to Raju, airlines are reporting profit.

When asked whether it has been only due to fall in fuel prices, he said oil prices have been a contributing factor and many of the carriers’ books are okay.

On the issue of “effective control,” reportedly raised by the established players at a meeting with the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mahesh Sharma, Raju said that it was out of the ambit of his ministry.

“Effective control is there on all industries. These are the things that come from finance (ministry)… I don’t think it is a correct argument. Effective control is in the realm of finance ministry,” he said.

The Federation of Indian Airlines had during the meeting reportedly raised its concerns citing the “substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC)” norms being flouted by foreign partners of Indian carriers and sought continuation of the 5/20 norm as long as the SOEC issue was not addressed.

The issue of SOEC norms reflects in the Schedule XI of the Aircraft Rules.

The FIA, which comprises Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, had raised the issue in 2014 also when aviation regulator DGCA had invited comments prior to issuing flying permit to the Tata-SIA joint venture airline Vistara, which has 51 per cent holding of Tata Group and rest 49 per cent of the Singapore Airlines.

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