Govt Pro­poses Air­craft-based Se­cu­rity at Small Air­ports to Save Costs

The Economic Times - - Economy & Companies - Mi­hirMishra@ times­group.com

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

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