The government of India has facilitated the repatriation and international travel of over 20 lakh people through different means since May 6, 2020, said Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, MoS, I/C, Civil Aviation. Interacting with media persons in New Delhi, Puri said that under Vande Bharat Mission, 17,11,128 people have travelled back to India and 2,97,536 people have travelled out of India.
Speaking about international travel, Puri informed that Government of India has formalized air bubble arrangements with 16 countries like USA, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Maldives, UAE, Qatar, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Japan, Nigeria, Kenya, Iraq, Bhutan and Oman. He added that Government is in discussion with Italy, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and others for similar arrangements.
Puri further said that domestic operations were started in a calibrated manner with 33% capacity of the approved summer schedule w.e.f. 25th May 2020, enhanced to 45% from 26th June and 60% from 2nd Sep 2020. More than 1.2 crore domestic passengers have flown since 25th May 2020. 1,56,565 passengers travelled on 1525 flights today.
Initiatives of Ministry of Civil Aviation
Lifeline Udan was launched to transport experts and equipment to every corner of the country (NER, hilly and island states) during the Covid-19 lockdown. Airlines operated 588 flights, flew more than 5 lakh kilometers and transported about 1000 tons of essential cargo. The airlines delivered testing kits and medical equipment to remote locations when movement by all other modes of transport was restricted. Huge support was received from IAF, State Governments and Administrations of Union Territories. Further, 1928 Tons medical cargo brought by Air India from foreign countries.30 Tons Medical cargo was supplied to friendly foreign countries (Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka)
UDAN – DRIVING THE GROWTH OF REGIONAL AVIATION SECTOR
UDAN scheme was launched for affordable regional connectivity.766 Routes were awarded after 4 rounds of bidding under UDAN out of which 284+ Routes have been operationalized connecting 105 airports. 50 UDAN Airports (incl. 5 heliports) developed & operationalized in 3 years as against 76 airports before. 4.8 million passengers have already benefitted from the Scheme.~30 States / UTs have signed MoUs as partners in the Scheme and offered concessions and incentives. Following are some of the key features of the scheme:
- 70% average load factor on the regional routes
- Implemented economizing measures within the Scheme framework to bring down VGF requirements by ~60% on select existing routes during COVID19.
- Start-up and scale-up opportunities for small regional and MSME airlines (Trujet, Air Taxi)
- 100 additional UDAN airports, 40+ heliports (Gaucher, Tezu) and water-aerodromes (Statue of Unity, Sabarmati River Front) to be connected
- Regional to Remote – North East (ACT East with Passighat, Tezpur) and Islands (Port Blair, Agatti)
MEASURES FOR AVIATION SECTOR
- In January 2020 Fuel Throughput charge was rationalised.
- Central Excise Duty on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) was reduced to 11% in October 2018.
- GST on MRO reduced from 18% to 5% with full input tax credit from 1 April 2020. This will attract MRO business to India leading to a lot of savings for airlines in maintenance and also creation of jobs.
- Till now, only 60% of the Airspace was available for civilian Aircraft movement. Now, restrictions are being eased out. Air space rationalization will save about Rs.1000 crore per annum for airlines
- The proposal to bring ATF under the ambit of GST is before the GST Council which has representation from the States as well.