International flying rules for airlines in India will be reviewed by the end of 2007? when a monopoly of state-owned carriers on Gulf routes comes up for renewal, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said, adding that approvals would be granted on a case-to-case basis.
The decision has raised hopes among fledgling private carriers that a five-year minimum experience norm for international flying will be shortened, and that all airlines will be able to fly to West Asia, the most connected international route from India.
Currently, state-owned Air India-Indian, Jet Airways (India) Ltd and its unit Air Sahara are the only Indian carriers eligible to fly outside India. Two-year-old Kingfisher Airlines Ltd and Deccan Aviation Ltd, which runs the Air Deccan brand since 2004, have been lobbying hard for scrapping the current minimum experience flying rule. “That’s an optimism we have always had,” said Kingfisher’s chief financial officer A. Raghunathan.
Patel also said the civil aviation ministry was working on options to reduce the impact of high aviation fuel prices on airlines in India.
“Within a fortnight we should have other options; we can’t have an entire sector being affected,” he said. “We are anyway going to unlock the monopoly (of oil companies).” Options could include buying aviation fuel in bulk, and allowing more private companies to compete with state-owned oil firms. Reliance Petroleum has government approval to sell aviation fuel at 22 airports in India and Essar Oil has is awaiting clearance.