A new aviation policy seeking to bring about bold changes in a booming industry ran into opposition at the second meeting of a group of ministers (GoM), tasked to approve the new set of rules for the sector, with representation from various factions of the United Progressive Alliance coalition government. The meeting was inconclusive.
Having being postponed many times in the past six months, the policy was widely expected to cruise through in the second meeting of the GoM, but several ministers in the 12-member strong GoM, headed by foreign affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, expressed reservations on multiple issues, said a senior government official familiar with the process who did not wished to be identified.
The official called the meeting a “stalemate” as there were differing voices on issues including setting up of a centralized cargo hub in Nagpur, which is less than 175km from civil aviation minister Praful Patel’s Gondia constituency; relaxed norms for new private-owned airports; and sharing of defence airspace.
When the GoM first met in August, opening of international routes for airlines with less than five years of operating experience was opposed by railways minister Lalu Prasad and law minister H.R. Bhardawaj.
“We will tell you (later),” is all Prasad said on Thursday, declining further comment.
An immediate beneficiary if the policy had been cleared would have been the UB Group-owned Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, followed by SpiceJet Ltd that has also inducted medium range aircraft for possible flights to West Asia and South East Asia.