G. Asok Kumar, joint secretary of India's Ministry of Civil Aviation, promised members of the country's Business Aviation Operators Association that long-awaited regulatory reform is less than a month away. [Photo: Neelam Mathews]
Within the next month, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation
intends to publish a long-awaited revised policy to specifically take account
of business aviation. The ministry’s joint secretary G. Asok Kumar announced
the initiative at the BizAvIndia Conference staged in Bangalore by India’s
Business Aviation Operators Association (BAOA) on February 17.
Kumar explained that the ministry has a subcommittee focusing on
issues impeding business aircraft operations in India. For instance, a
requirement for landing and aircraft parking fees to be paid in cash has been
“an embarrassment,” he acknowledged.
Another significant change as part of the new aviation policy is
a new classification for operators providing scheduled, per-seat charter
services as “scheduled commuter operators.” This category will be
available for operators serving remote locations with at least four flights
each week. Previously, what are effectively regional airline services have been
confusingly classified as non-scheduled operations, preventing them from
publicizing flight timetables or selling seats for specific flights. This
misclassification of scheduled flights has caused confusion about the exact
regulatory status of strictly non-scheduled private charter operations.
Kumar toldAINthat the new aviation policy should
also rationalize how companies are approved to provide aircraft maintenance
under contracts with operators. He added that the Indian government is expected
to reduce high tax rates for maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Acknowledging the General Aviation Manufacturers Association's
role in making the case for regulatory reform in India, Kumar thankedGAMApresident andCEOPete Bunce, who participated in the
Bizav India Conference. “We are fortunate to have the president ofGAMAwho has offered support to the
industry,” he said. “He acknowledged that business aviation has been neglected
in India for far too long, and we have realized our mistake.”
Bunce said the growth of business aviation in India has been
held back by several factors, including a lack of coherent regulation, punitive
taxes and insufficient airport infrastructure. He plans to report back to theU.S.Department of Commerce on the
Indian government’s promise of imminent regulatory reform.