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Amendments to Act regulating major airports passed in Lok Sabha

There is a lack of clarity in the Bill regarding the criterion of deciding which airports will be clubbed together to qualify under ‘a group of airports’ definition,. Photo: MintPremium
There is a lack of clarity in the Bill regarding the criterion of deciding which airports will be clubbed together to qualify under ‘a group of airports’ definition,. Photo: Mint

  • The bill proposes to amend the definition of ‘major airport’ under the Aera Act, 2008
  • First introduced in March 2021, the bill was subsequently referred to a parliamentary panel, which has approved it without any changes

NEW DELHI : The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021, amid protests by Opposition parties over the Pegasus snooping issue.

The bill, which proposes to amend the definition of “major airport" under the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Act, 2008 (Aera Act), was tabled by Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lower House of Parliament.

First introduced in March 2021, the bill was subsequently referred to a parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, which has since then approved it without any changes.

The committee had tabled its report on the bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. It will now have to be passed in the Upper House of Parliament to become an Act.

“The purpose of this amendment is to pair the smaller non-profitable airports with profitable airports as a combination/package to bidders to make it a viable combination for investment under PPP (public-private partnership) mode," said Poonam Verma, partner, J. Sagar Associates.

“This move is also likely to help in expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote areas and as a result, expediting the UDAN regional connectivity scheme. The amendment will allow AERA to regulate tariff and other charges for aeronautical services for not just major airport with annual passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million, but also a group of airports together," Verma said.

However, there is lack of clarity in the bill on the criterion for deciding which airports will be clubbed together to qualify under ‘a group of airports’ definition, “whether it will be the passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million or some other factors too? This clarity needs to be brought in to achieve the objective of the bill," Verma added.

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