India’s Civil Aviation Ministry is now considering scrapping the 5/20 rule. This rule says that airlines must have flown domestically for at least five years and have 20 aircraft in their fleet before they are granted a licence for flying internationally.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, his deputy Mahesh Sharma and aviation secretary RN Choubey will hold a meeting this week to arrive at a final decision.
The change was suggested by Air India’s new Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Ashwani Lohani. He believes the liberalisation will serve international traffic from India and encourage more plates to enter the field.
On the other side of the argument, former Air India CMD Rohit Nandan is of the view that the 5/20 rule helps monitor safety and performance of domestic carriers before they are granted an international licence. In a letter penned to the Civil Aviation Ministry he writes: “The sudden withdrawal of the protection of 5/20 rule, might be the proverbial last nail in the national carrier’s coffin without bringing any significant benefit to the nation.
“In this background, Air India would recommend that the government while rationalising the 5/20 rule, may adopt a pragmatic, simple but cautious policy, based on a duel criteria of safety and extent of domestic operations.”
A suggested alternative is that airlines earn domestic flying credits (DFC), which can be redeemed to fly internationally. Higher points are given to those flying to remote Indian airports. This could encourage airlines to connect metro cities to secondary Indian airports by air.
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