Govt revives flexible use of airspace policy, move to help airlines

The government had formulated flexible use of air space policy in 2014
Civil aviation ministry officials hope that a push from Prime Ministers' Office will help in achieving efficient use of airspace and save costs for airlines.

While the aviation sector has been clamouring for fund infusion and tax benefits, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced efficient use of airspace, privatisation of six airports of Airports Authority of India and development of maintenance repair overhaul hub as a part of government package for aviation.

Sitharaman said only 60 per cent of Indian airspace is freely available and restrictions will be eased so that flying takes less time. She added that this will result in annual saving of around Rs 1,000 crore for airlines.

However the policy initiative is not new. 

The government had formulated flexible use of air space policy in 2014. The policy allowed for civilian flights through military airspace on certain conditions. For instance a flight route would be available for airlines only during certain hours of the day or there were restrictions on the height for civilian aircraft passing through military airspace. 

"But the policy was not really implemented. Now we hope that with the push from PMO we will be able to have better co-ordination with the Air Force and develop many routes bringing cost and time benefits to Indian and foreign airlines," an official said.

For instance flights on Nagpur - Pune  or Mumbai - Srinagar routes  have to take a detour to avoid military airspace. This adds to 16 minutes of extra flying time and additional cost of Rs 70,000-75,000 per trip, he added.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a review meeting to make civil aviation sector more efficient. It was decided that the Indian air space should be effectively used in such a manner that the flying time is reduced benefitting the traveling public and also helping the airlines in saving costs, a government release had said.
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