INDIA-US AVIATION SAFETY PACT SIGNED

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore July 18, 2011 08:49

INDIA-US AVIATION SAFETY PACT SIGNED

The US and India are poised to sign a landmark bilateral aviation safety agreement that will open up the aeronautical products market to US exporters. The deal will be signed by Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, during her visit to India on July 18.

The proposed agreement will open up a huge market for export of aeronautical products manufactured in the US and other regions of the world.

Nasim Zaidi, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, who officially launched the build up to “India Aviation-2012” being held at Begumpet Airport, Hyderabad, on March 14-18, 2012, set out plans to transform India into a global aviation hub. He plans to restructure the Directorate General of Civil Aviation into a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), set up an independent Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Committee as well as an independent Accident Investigation Board and on ombudsman institution in the civil aviation sector.

Some ten new green field airports and upgrades of 80 airports to meet all operational communication requirements of air traffic services are also planned. The Indra Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Academy (IGRUA) has earmarked $5.25 million to upgrade its training facilities.

The plan will be presented to the US delegation and it is likely Zaidi will try to allay fears over the precarious financial situation of India’s airlines, the rising fuel prices, the congestion at the airports, shortage of pilots and high airport charges.

Meanwhile, Indian carriers have been order not to charge passengers for booking preferred seats in advance. However this is a major revenue driver, especially for low cost carriers such as SpiceJet, IndiGo, GoAir and Air India Express. These airlines allow passengers to pay extra to pay for particular seats when booking tickets online.

Nevertheless, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a letter to the airlines on Friday that “all the scheduled domestic airlines are directed to withdraw such charges with immediate effect under intimation to this office”.

Airlines are now not allowed to charge extra for emergency exit seats nor charge separately for food – the costs now have to be built into the fare price advertised on their websites. Understandably the airlines, which remain under significant fiscal pressure, have complained about the rules.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore July 18, 2011 08:49
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