11 August :The meeting of the Consultative Committee of the Members of Parliament attached to the Ministry of Civil Aviation was held here today. Welcoming the Members to the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee, the Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Praful Patel expressed his concern about the rising ATF prices which have started adversely affecting the Civil Aviation Sector.
He informed the Members that the base prices of ATF in India was high primarily to subsidize other petroleum products. The high taxes levied by the State Governments on ATF compounded the issue resulting in high levels of ATF prices across the country. This is affecting the financial viabilities of all Indian airlines. He also informed that he has raised the matter with the Prime Minister on a number of occasions following which the Prime Minister has constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary to examine and assess the financial difficulties being faced by the Airlines operators in India and recommend measures for sustained growth and health of the aviation industry. The first meeting of the Committee is scheduled to be held on 14 August, 2008 and the Ministry is hopeful of a positive outcome.
He also informed the Members that work Kolkata and Chennai airports should start by September, 2008. The PIB clearance of both the airports have been done. The detailed project reports have been submitted to the Government of India for approval. He also added that the trial run of the third and new runway at the Delhi International Airport will commence on 21st August, 2008. Once this runway is operational, the congestion over Delhi Airport is expected to go down substantially. The Members also discussed other issues that were taken up at the meeting including the necessity of second airport at Delhi and in a specific case, an airport at Jhajjar in Haryana, which is being one of the States without any airport. The Minister informed that a Group of Ministers have been asked to look into the legalities of setting up of a second airport at Delhi in view of the agreements signed with the developers of the IGI Airport at New Delhi.
The other issues discussed by the Members related to the facilities provided to the passengers by the LCCs, appointment of an ombudsman to address the problems of the passengers, development of airport infrastructure, functioning of the regulatory authorities under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, air connectivity to different places across the country specially to the North-East, issues relating to the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines, connectivity to airports and naming of airports. In the context of names, the Minister clarified that while airports normally were named after that the cities that they belong to, in certain cases naming/renaming of airports was done after consultations with stakeholders and the final decision is taken by the Cabinet. He, however, clarified that the name of the Chandigarh Airport would remain Chandigarh Airport and was not being renamed as Mohali Airport.
The Members of the Committee who have attended today’s meeting were Shri Santosh Gangwar, Shri Ratilal K. Verma, Shri Ashok Argal, Shri Ramswaroop Koli, Shri Anandrao Adsul and Shri Deepender Singh Hooda from Lok Sabha and Dr. (Smt.) Najma A. Heptulla, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Shri Sanjay Raut, Shri Vijay Darda, Shri Thomas A. Sangma and Shri Rajeev Shukla from Rajya Sabha and Shri Rahul Bajaj (on special invitation from the Chairman).