Govt Proposes Aircraft-based Security at Small Airports to Save Costs
New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry has suggested a shift from airport-based security to aircraft-based security at smaller airports to minimise cost of flying on regional routes, an idea that has not found favour with experts.
The suggestion, which marks the first time the government has thought of cutting costs on security in the aviation sector, is part of the new aviation policy that was sent for inter-ministerial consultation earlier this month. “The sole intent is to keep the cost of flying low for regional flights, where we plan to fix fares at .₹ 2,500 per hour, and is part of the policy,” said an aviation ministry official, requesting not to be named.
The official said the plan is to make security aircraft-based or flight-based at small airports. “Under the plan, the airport will be sanitised about two hours before the flight is to arrive and the security will move out of the airport about one hour after the flight departs. Otherwise, the airport will not be used and will have minimal security,” he said.
This will help keep the cost low, he said. Analysts, however, slammed the idea on the grounds that aviation security can’t discriminate on the size of the aircraft or airport. “The risk of a hijack is the same for both small and big aircraft. Aviation security cannot be lax at airports that are small or have regional flights,” said Shakti Lumba, former head of operations at Air India and IndiGo. “What if the flight is delayed or an aircraft is grounded at an airport that does not have security. It can’t work like the way the government has suggested because it wants to keep the cost low,” he added.
According to the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016, which is likely to be taken up by the Cabinet by the end of this month, the ministry intends to roll out regional flights at 30 airports which have the infrastructure in place. The Centre has decided to subsidise airlines for their cost of flying passengers beyond the fixed tariff of .₹ 2,500 per hour.
The policy proposes to charge .₹ 8,000 per landing or take off on domestic flights by planes with 80 or more seats to fund the subsidy for regional flights.
Under the plan, an airport will be sanitised two hours before arrival of a flight and until an hour after it leaves