Government may soon allow Wi-Fi use on flights

Fliers may soon be able to use Wi-Fi facility when they are on flights in the Indian airspace, with the government on Tuesday indicating that a decision is likely in the coming days.

"I will be able to give you good news in 10 days," Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said on Wednesday in response to a query on when Wi-Fi would be allowed in flights.

At present, fliers are not allowed to use mobile phones and Internet when they are in the Indian airspace.

 
"There is fairly a good chance that in ten days permission will be given to operate Wi-Fi in the Indian airspace," Choubey said.

When asked whether there were any security issues in allowing Wi-Fi in flights, he said the important thing was about the "ability to track voice and data".

If necessary, agencies should have access to the details and if need be it can be tracked, he noted.

On whether calls would also be permitted, Choubey said that if data is going to be allowed, it should be possible to make calls as well. "We expect that to happen as well," he added.

"I must compliment the present DoT Secretary... I have been chasing it for quite sometime. I am obviously saying so on the basis of what Deepak (DoT Secretary) has told me," he said.

According to him, the Cabinet's approval would not be required for the proposal.

"It (wifi facility) will be available to both Indian carriers and foreign carriers, which may be only overflying the Indian airspace," he said.

Choubey was speaking at an awards function organised by the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI).

Meanwhile, Choubey asserted that Indian airports are safe, adding that the country cannot afford to have unsafe airports when the aviation sector is growing at 22 per cent.

Speaking at the function, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the benefit of fall in oil prices has not been fully passed on to the passengers, even though fares have come down.

India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets and would continue to be in the future, he added.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the government is working to bring in strict provisions to protect the interests of consumers, including those who are affected by flight cancellations.

A bill to bring amendments to the Consumer Protection Act is expected to be passed in the Winter session of Parliament, he said.

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