Service tax on first

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New Delhi, Jan 11 (UNI) Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today said he wanted the service tax on first and business class to be abolished in line with all international airlines.

Talking to reporters after launcing the 'India Aviation 2008', Mr Patel said he was also in favour of lowering taxes on air fuel and sales tax being brought under the category of declared goods.

He said he would meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram next week to seek more support for the aviation sector.

Mr Patel said the Centre had asked the States to come forward in building infrastructure for increasing regional air connectivity in the country.

A meeting of the States has been convened on January 18 in New Delhi on the issue, he said.

''There is a need for building infrastructure in smaller towns for air mobility as well as supporting infrastructure for airports.'' He said 300 air strips in the country were lying unused and must be brought into the mainstream of activity.

''For this purpose, the States have to be involved and have to bring the infrastructure and the PPP model into play. The Centre and the AAI alone cannot drive the growth of the aviation sector.'' He said 2008 should be the year of Helicopters, as there was a huge potential for connectivity through helicopters, especially to inaccessible areas and within big cities.

With a huge coast line in India, he said there was also potential for the use of seaplanes.

An international Exhibition on Civil Aviation and air show at the Hyderabad airport will be held from October 15-18.

The civil aviation air show will become a regular feature every alternate year.

UNI YJ BDP BD1846

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