Within the next month, India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation intends to publish a long-awaited revised policy to specifically take account of business aviation. The ministry’s joint secretary G. Asok Kumar announced the initiative at the BizAvIndia Conference staged in Bangalore by India’s Business Aviation Operators Association (BAOA) on February 17.
Kumar explained that the ministry has a subcommittee focusing on issues impeding business aircraft operations in India. For instance, a requirement for landing and aircraft parking fees to be paid in cash has been “an embarrassment,” he acknowledged.
Another significant change as part of the new aviation policy is a new classification for operators providing scheduled, per-seat charter services as “scheduled commuter operators.” This category will be available for operators serving remote locations with at least four flights each week. Previously, what are effectively regional airline services have been confusingly classified as non-scheduled operations, preventing them from publicizing flight timetables or selling seats for specific flights. This misclassification of scheduled flights has caused confusion about the exact regulatory status of strictly non-scheduled private charter operations.
Kumar told AIN that the new aviation policy should also rationalize how companies are approved to provide aircraft maintenance under contracts with operators. He added that the Indian government is expected to reduce high tax rates for maintenance, repair and overhaul services.
Acknowledging the General Aviation Manufacturers Association's role in making the case for regulatory reform in India, Kumar thanked GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce, who participated in the Bizav India Conference. “We are fortunate to have the president of GAMA who has offered support to the industry,” he said. “He acknowledged that business aviation has been neglected in India for far too long, and we have realized our mistake.”
Bunce said the growth of business aviation in India has been held back by several factors, including a lack of coherent regulation, punitive taxes and insufficient airport infrastructure. He plans to report back to the U.S. Department of Commerce on the Indian government’s promise of imminent regulatory reform.