In a respite for the private domestic carrier, who are struggling with poor finances due to grounding since March, the government of India will soon allow these private airlines to operate repatriation flights to bring back Indians stuck in a foreign land.
The aviation ministry on Tuesday held a meeting, which was convened by aviation secretary Pradeep Sigh Kharola, along with all airlines to discuss the issue and discussions were held to allow private airlines for the flights.
“The fares and flights, which the private carriers will operate, are still under discussions and will be announced soon,” said a top government official, who did not want to be identified.
As of now only the national carrier Air India and its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express has been carrying out such flights on behalf of the government. While Air India, which has long-haul aircraft in its fleet, and can evacuate Indians from the US and Europe, private domestic carriers can provide evacuation flights to short-haul international destinations.
Another senior official added that airlines will have to take permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) before every such flight.
“Since these flights are unscheduled, airlines will have to take approvals for those flights,” said another government official, on a condition of anonymity.
Such repatriation flights, where passengers are charged for travel, will provide revenues to airlines, who have been grounded since the end of March and are under deep financial stress.
The permission for repatriation flights has come after the government did not provide any support to the ailing airline industry in the Rs 20 lakh crore bailout package announced last week.
Airline executives have welcomed the move and said that this is a big positive for financially hit airlines.
“This is a positive and welcome step as it will allow repatriation of a larger number of citizens, who are on waitlists. Private airlines had offered their services at the very beginning and will be glad to do their part.”
“This also allows private airlines to get their aircraft, crew, and operational staff actively working again in preparation for the resumption of scheduled flights. Finally, it creates a revenue opportunity after many weeks of close to zero revenue, as well as will make the flights more affordable,” said an airline executive, who did not want to be identified.
(Source: Economic Times)
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