NEW DELHI, Oct 30 - In what could be a setback for the northeastern region, the Centre has decided to scrap the route dispersal guidelines, which mandated airlines to fly to remote areas, including the North-east.
Currently, the airlines needs to deploy at least 10 per cent of the capacity on the metro routes in the NE region, Jammu and Kashmir, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep (Category-II routes).
According to the revised draft of the Civil Aviation Policy released on Friday by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, airlines will now need to take the permission of the Civil Aviation Ministry to withdraw existing operations in North-east, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Ladakh.
A regional connectivity scheme, which will come into effect from April 1, 2016 has been framed, wherein airfares for an hour-long flight will be capped at Rs 2,500. This will happen through revival of un-served or under-served airstrips.
According to the scheme, a regional connectivity fund will be formed by charging 2 per cent cess on air tickets on international and domestic routes, excluding the intra-remote areas. The Centre will provide viability gap funding on air tickets from 80 per cent of the regional connectivity fund and the rest will come from the State.
The State Government concerned will identify potential airstrip on which a low-cost airport can be developed. It will have to provide a slew of incentives, such as free land, concessional power, water and other tariffs, reduce VAT on aviation fuel to 1 per cent or less on these airports. Additionally, the Centre will exempt service tax on air tickets under this scheme and the aviation fuel will be exempt from excise duty.
More routes will be added up in the Category I (metro) routes as destinations more than 700 km away domestically with annual traffic of 500,000 passengers will also become a part of it, he said.
Union Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey gave an hour-long presentation on the policy here. The Government will send the draft policy for Cabinet�s approval by mid-December this year.
On the other hand, a proposed helicopter policy states that Government will support growth of helicopter services for remote area connectivity, intra-city movement, tourism, law enforcement, disaster relief, medical evacuation, etc.
Separate regulations for helicopters will be notified by the DGCA by April 1 next year, after due consultation with stakeholders. The Government will facilitate the development of four heli-hubs initially.
Helicopters will be free to fly from point to point without prior ATC clearance in airspace below 5,000 feet and outside ATC control areas and areas other than prohibited and restricted ones, after filing the flight plan with the nearest ATC office, the revised draft policy has proposed.