New Delhi/Vivek Shukla: Amid the continuous din created by members of parliament from opposition parties the Lok Sabha passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA Amendment) Bill, 2021 on Thursday without any debate. The bill seeks to encourage smaller airports to expand air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas. Moving the bill for passage and consideration, Civil Aviation Minster Jyotiraditya Scindia said the government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, is committed to providing aviation services to all the people.
Under the UDAN scheme, the minister said, the government has started air services from several smaller cities such as Darbhanga, Belgaum in Karnataka, Jharsuguda in Odisha, Jagdalpur, and Hubli. "The government thinks that new airports should be built. There are 128 airports ... our thinking is that in the coming days, India should play a leadership role for the world in the sector," he said.
According to the bill, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 provides for the establishment of an Airports Economic Regulatory Authority to regulate tariff and other charges for the aeronautical services rendered at airports and to monitor performance standards of airports.
Being an independent regulator for the protection of the interests of airports, airlines, and passengers, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India has, since its inception, been determining the tariffs of aeronautical charges at major airports in the country.
What does the AERA (Amendment) bill seek?
The AERA (Amendment) Bill 2021 seeks to encourage smaller airports to expand air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas using the UDAN scheme. Under the Act, 'major airport' has been defined to mean any airport which has, or is designated to have, annual passenger throughput in excess of three-and-a-half million.
However, it does not provide for the determination of tariffs for a group of airports.
The airports where currently the traffic potential is low and loss-making are not expected to attract reasonable competitive bids. Developing more airports through a public-private partnership model would expand air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas.
This approach would develop not only the high traffic volume profitable airports but also the low traffic volume non-profitable airports. Therefore, the government has decided to club or pair airports having profitable and non-profitable airports which could be offered in a public-private partnership model as a package to the prospective bidders, according to the bill.
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