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India needs a comprehensive aviation policy, says Tyler

Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has strongly pitched for a comprehensive aviation policy for India to address inherent issues that have been hindering the growth of the aviation industry. Speaking at the Aviation Day conference organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Tyler said that a policy with active participation of various government ministries was needed to bring vibrancy to the aviation industry in the country. According to him, infrastructure, higher operating cost and taxation structures are some of the major challenges that Indian aviation sector has been facing.

Elaborating on these issues, Tyler said that the most urgent need is to move forward with Navi Mumbai to provide India’s financial capital with the connectivity that it will need for continued success. Secondly, Indian infrastructure in general is expensive. “Our concerns over the charges increases in India are well-known. And there seems to be a growing list of airports asking for what can only be viewed as unreasonable increases,” he said.

He further urged the Government to reduce taxes for the aviation sector. “Globally, fuel averages a third of an airline’s cost. In India, it accounts for 45 per cent. And on top of that, India imposes a service tax on international travel which goes against International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) policies. A similar tax on air navigation services is in direct contravention of the Chicago Convention to which India is a signatory,” he lamented and added that India’s promise to upgrade its immigration service to a modern advance passenger information (API) system used in other major countries still have not been honored.

“Solutions to these must be coordinated across all ministries and levels of government. That is why I have called for India to formulate a national aviation policy. The call was for a coordinated policy framework that would facilitate growth,” he said and added that an uncoordinated approach across government undermines what little aviation policy India now observes.

Tyler also called on India to review its ground handling policy. “Airlines are subject to discrimination between how security functions are handled by domestic airlines versus international carriers. Airlines are denied the right to self-handle. And there is deep policy confusion due to different interpretations of the multiple government notifications and concessions awarded by airports. It is time to take a fresh look at the whole issue,” said Tyler.

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