The concerns of airlines that approvals for aircraft acquisition could slow down after change of rules under Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh seem to be turning true.
At the first meeting of the Aircraft Acquisition Committee after Singh made himself the final approval authority, IndiGo’s proposal to import 16 aircraft was slashed to five.
Two officials familiar with the case said that IndiGo’s proposal was cleared by the committee, but the minister okayed import of only five aircraft at a November-end meeting.
“The committee had cleared the proposal on three grounds — the airline was using these planes for international routes and also starting domestic flights to some tier II cities, plus airlines needed to add capacity to make up for the absence of Kingfisher,” said a government source.
A source close to the minister said all 16 aircraft had not been allowed because the committee had failed to take into account new route dispersal guidelines (RDGs). “The new guidelines will mandate all airlines to operate a percentage of their flights to tier III cities also. Since the aircraft induction programme of IndiGo is over 12 months, those guidelines should also be considered. The new RDGs will be in place by the end of this month and IndiGo’s proposal will be cleared then,” said the source. “With five aircraft, IndiGo’s immediate needs are addressed.”
Earlier, the Aircraft Acquisition Committee was headed by the additional secretary and financial advisor of the Civil Aviation Ministry and its orders were final. However, now the committee only has an advisory role and the power of final approval vests with the minister, who heads it.