India’s business aviation sector is facing a new obstacle to growth, with civil aviation minister Ajit Singh now insisting on giving final approval for every aircraft imported into the country. Before October, aircraft acquisition requests from airlines, charter companies and private individuals were dealt with by senior government officials on the aircraft acquisition committee, which met each month to clear backlogged requests.
Singh’s personal intervention in the unwieldy process seems to be causing delays already. Over the past three months, approximately 50 requests for aircraft purchases have been on hold awaiting approval by the minister. The new aircraft acquisition approval policy is intended to induce India’s airlines to buy smaller aircraft that the government wants deployed to new regional airline services to connect smaller cities.
“We should not be clubbed [together] with the airline acquisition process, as our needs are different,” Rohit Kapur, president of India’s Business Aviation Operators Association, told AIN. “We need simplified acquisition decisions. The minister has no right to decide which company wants what aircraft for its own use.”