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Panel for early strengthening of IA fleet

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI DEC. 19 . The members of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Civil Aviation Ministry today urged the Government to expedite the decision to purchase new aircraft for Indian Airlines as the delay in fleet acquisition was leading to a fall in the carrier's market share. The MPs suggested that the Government strengthen the equity of the airlines by providing it Rs. 325 crores as recommended by the Kelkar Committee.

They supported the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Committee that there should be judicious application of the guidelines for operation on the category II and III routes on all the operators so that the burden of uneconomic operation was equally shared. Otherwise, they said, the airlines should be compensated for the losses incurred by it in excess of the guidelines as part of its social commitment.

The members said there was an urgent need to redefine the routes and stations to be covered under categories I, II and III to ensure a level playing field. They demanded that the operators be asked to publish a citizens' charter and carry stretcher patients on all the routes. They also expressed satisfaction over the improvement in the services, both at the airports and on flights.

The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, gave an overview of the important developments in the aviation sector. He said India and Pakistan would resume direct air links and overflights from January 1, 2004 on a reciprocal basis. He also explained the decisions in relation to the flights to and from the ASEAN countries and Sri Lanka by their designated carriers. The Reduced Vertical Separation Minima (RVSM) as recommended by Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) had been introduced in the Indian and surrounding airspace with effect from November 27.

Mr. Rudy said the Committee would discuss the Naresh Chandra Committee report before it goes to the Union Cabinet. Several members observed that the recommendations of the committee had far-reaching consequences and it needed to be discussed in detail.

The meeting is likely to take place early next month to expedite the process for a national civil aviation policy.

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