Some private carriers favoured under UPA: Ashok Gajapathi Raju

New Delhi, June 12: Certain private airlines were "favoured" by the previous UPA government and allegations in this regard are being investigated, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Sunday, June 12.

Domestic carriers lost out significantly to their foreign counterparts in the previous government, he said. "Certain things done in the past (under UPA) did not make sense. Wrongdoing is wrongdoing, whether it is intentional or unintentional. Law should take its course.


"I won't individually sit and dig the past. There are agencies and they will do that. We are not interfering with it," Raju said when asked during an interview whether action is being taken against alleged wrongdoers.

Disapproving of the 5/20 norm introduced during the UPA tenure, Raju wondered who has benefited from the rule and gave clear indication that government was going to scrap it.

The airlines are divided over the continuance of 5/20 rule whereby only carriers with minimum 20 aircraft fleet and five years of operational experience can fly overseas.

Raju, who has been vocal against the rule, said policies are not for all times and added that there was no cohesiveness in promoting aviation sector during the UPA regime. When asked whether he would term them as legacy issues, the Minister remarked, "Call it under whatever names you want. Those titles you give and I don't have to give the titles".

"Right from the beginning I have been asking, look here what has 5/20 rule resulted in. What does it mean?... Now you have profitable and non-profitable routes within the country as well as outside. "What is effectively 5/20 then? It has not allowed the Indian players to rise to their potential.

On one side you have air service agreements with other countries while those countries are able to perform, you are not able to perform," the Minister said.

Asked whether he has differences with his junior colleague in the Ministry Mahesh Sharma on certain issues, Raju said there was nothing wrong in having divergent views.

Raju and Sharma have publicly aired contradictory views on various issues, including with regard to capping of airfares and possibility of auctioning of additional traffic rights. When asked about proposed auctioning of additional traffic rights, the Minister said it is in the draft civil aviation policy as Indian players are not able to perform on their air service agreements.

Air service agreements are between government-to- government under which the airlines of participating countries are allowed to operate agreed number of flights.

The government wants to make available additional flights outside of the agreements if there is a demand from a foreign airline through auction.

"Since there is also a demand by other countries, why don't you try to make it a unilateral kind of thing with limited auction period so that this money could go for regional connectivity fund," he said.

When told that no country in the world auctions bilateral rights, Raju clarified that government wants to auction only additional seats in a unilateral way.


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