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Moves are afoot to amend a system that makes it mandatory for Indian airlines to fly to the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and island territories, irrespective of the commercial viability of such operations.
Under the Route Dispersal Guideline (RDG) which has been in place since 1994, all Indian carriers have to deploy at least 10% of their capacity to connect remote destinations, termed Category II routes, which may be commercially unviable but socially important.
With the imminent entry of no-frills airline AirAsia India in the regional aviation market and some airlines planning to target Tier-II and Tier-III cities, the government is carrying out consultations on amending the RDG, although no final decision has been taken yet in the matter, official sources said.
Following deregulation of domestic operations, flights are being operated by the airlines on the basis of commercial viability, subject to their adherence to RDG, they said.
The Rohit Nandan Committee had suggested that Guwahati, Bagdogra, Jammu, Port Blair and Lakshadweep should be clubbed in Category-II routes as that would generate additional capacity for the airlines, most of which are bleeding.
Changes in the RDG were being formulated by officials and the airlines have not been kept in the loop, industry sources said, adding that it would be appropriate to take the airlines' views before finalising the changes.