‘Evaluating process’ on normalising overseas flight operations: Jyotiraditya Scindia

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November 18, 2021 11:20 PM

In a possible indication that overseas flight operations are unlikely to be fully normal in the near term, the minister said that people should not let down their guard.

Jyotiraditya ScindiaThe flight SG9945 took off at 2.50 pm from Delhi and landed at approximately 3.50 pm at the Gwalior airport. (File)

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said the government is evaluating the process for normalising international operations and asserted that it wants to return to normalcy while keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic situation in certain parts of the world.

In a possible indication that overseas flight operations are unlikely to be fully normal in the near term, the minister said that people should not let down their guard. “I am all for regaining our space in the civil aviation arena in the world and making a hub in India and for more wide body aircraft. We will get there but bear with me and trust me, I am on your side. We will work together but in a safe environment,” he said.

Scheduled international passenger flights to and from India remain suspended since March last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. India has air bubble arrangements with more than 25 countries for operating international flights.

Under an air bubble arrangement between two countries, international passenger flights can be operated by their respective carriers into each other’s territories subject to certain conditions. “We are evaluating the process,” the minister said while responding to a query on when international flight operations are likely to normalise.

Speaking at a summit organised by industry body CII, Scindia also said that his aim is to make India an aviation hub.
“Let me commit to you that we are evaluating that process. We want to return but keeping in mind what is happening in the world… today what is happening in Russia, parts of Europe, they are going through a fourth wave with vaccine. Let us not erase our short term memories so soon,” the minister said.

Further, Scindia noted that a process is being followed and there has to be a dialogue with other ministries before reaching a decision on overseas flight operations. Domestic flights have been allowed to operate with full capacity in October.

At the ‘Global Economic Policy Summit 2021 Rebuilding Economies’ organised by CII, Scindia also asserted that the civil aviation ministry wants to be a constructive collaborator and not a restrictive regulator. Regarding high ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) prices, Scindia said seven states have slashed their VAT (Value Added Tax) on the fuel and he was expecting more states to follow suit.

With the current tax structure on ATF, “you cannot have a robust civil aviation sector. I am very clear on that,” he added.

At another event in the evening, Minister of State for Civil Aviation V K Singh said revenue from VAT is not much for states but “what you gain by bringing it down will be tremendous.”

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