`Flexible airspace will bring down airline costs’

June 27th, 2008 - 9:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 27 (IANS) A rigid and condensed airspace for civilian aircrafts coupled with increasing aviation fuel prices are contributing to the losses of the Indian aviation industry, airline operators said Friday. “We can save at least 15 percent of the operational costs of our airline if air routes are straightened and civil aircraft are provided more air space. This would save a lot of fuel,” Sanjay Bahadur, vice-president of Kingfisher Airlines, told reporters here.

He said the airline industry is reeling under severe losses. “The government should soon introduce flexible use of airspace to optimise the use of Indian airspace to meet the needs of both military and civil aviation for the country,” said A. Shivanandan, Jet Airways spokesperson.

Senior officials of the airline industry spoke here at a press conference organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham).

The Ajay Prasad Committee set up to formulate a master plan for next generation air navigation services recommended that flexible use of airspace be accepted to optimise the use of Indian airspace so as to meet the needs of both military and civil aviation for the country.

The defence ministry and the Indian Air Force (IAF) accepted it. As a first step, the airspace above 29,000 feet may be released for civilian air traffic. This will expand the restricted airspace, which is largely with the IAF, while a very short airspace is open for civil operations now, said a civil aviation ministry official.

The airline operators have urged the government for a joint review with the industry to revise guidelines so that it meets the airline industry’s requirements.

“There are an excess of non-aeronautical service charges on an airline and this has grown after the privatisation of the airports. There should be no user fee and aviation fuel prices should be brought down,” said Jagdish P. Gupta, Jagson Airlines chairman.

“Low Cost Carriers too are paying the same service charges as applicable for scheduled airlines. The non-scheduled private operators like us too are unable to afford the losses. The government will have to look into these aspects, or else the airline industry will fall,” said Gupta.

The airline operators demanded for a regulator of the aviation industry in India and change in the Route Dispersal Guidelines to provide air transport services in the remote areas of the country.

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