Def ministry urged to waive landing charge for smaller jets
In a bid to boost regional connectivity and making air travel affordable, the Civil Aviation Ministry has urged the Defence Ministry to exempt smaller aircraft from payment of landing charges at airports controlled by it.
Exemption from landing charges at Civil Enclaves, airports belonging to the armed forces but used for commercial flights also, would help airlines save on cost and then pass on the benefits to passengers by way of lowering ticket prices.
There are over 23 Civil Enclaves such as Goa, Pune, Port Blair, Srinagar and Bagdogra where scheduled domestic airlines operate.
"The Ministry of Defence has been requested to consider exemption from landing charges on aircraft with a maximum certified capacity of less than 80 seats, being operated by domestic scheduled operators at defence airfields," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a written reply in Lok Sabha.
The defence authorities collect the landing charges at Civil Enclaves as per the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) issued by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
An executive of a private airline said that many carriers have inducted smaller aircraft like ATRs and Bombardier 400s to launch new flights to various tier-II towns. Further, while these aircraft are exempted from paying landing charges at various PPP airports and those owned by and run by Airports Authority of India (AAI), they are required to pay landing fees at Civil Enclaves.
"If smaller aircraft are exempted from paying landing and parking fees at Civil Enclaves, there would definitely be improvement in connectivity at these airports. Some positive impact on airfare would also definitely come," the executive said.
Leading airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet have added smaller cities and towns in their network by inducting smaller aircraft in their fleet. Alliance Air, the regional arm of Air India, has also been adding more towns to its network using its fleet of ATRs.IANS