NEW DELHI: Opposing the government's plan to dilute norms for domestic carriers seeking international operations, the existing airlines today said such a proposal, if enforced, will be detrimental for the industry in the long term.
At present, the rule, popularly known as 5/20 rule, makes it mandatory for the domestic airlines to fly on domestic routes for five years and have a 20-plane fleet before going international.
The government has, however, now proposed to do away with this rule and link overseas operations with a policy on mandatory operations on regional and remote routes.
"These (proposed) guideline will have a devastating effect on the growth and development of emerging India, the state governments and the aviation industry," sources in the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an umbrella organisation of domestic carriers, said.
Alleging that the proposed relaxation comes on the "prodding" of the new entrants in the market, the sources said that bypassing or revising this framework is "totally unfair and unjust because it proposes to alienate the right already earned by the existing airlines".
As per the proposed policy, an airline will be allowed to go overseas if it has accrued two billion domestic flying credits (DFCs), has five planes in the fleet and an accident- free, one-year record.
National carrier Air India and private airlines Jet Airways, IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet are the members of the FIA. AirAsia India and Tata-SIA's Vistara are not members of the FIA.
As per the current 5/20 policy, the airlines must deploy a percentage of their capacity to socio-economic routes in the national interest inspite of these not being commercially viable, the sources said. (More) PTI IAS SC 01201914 "However, if the rules are done away with, an airline, after becoming eligible for flying overseas markets, will deploy a larger part of its capacity on the international and trunk domestic routes, leaving the regional connectivity to suffer," the sources said.
Vistara Chief Executive Phee Tiek Yeoh had said at the time of announcing the airline's launch date that the carrier would look into expediting its international footprint once the government does away with the 5/20 rule.
"We are hopeful that the 5/20 rule will go away very soon, the writing is on the wall. The government is very positive," Yoh had said last month.
AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes too had in the past advocated for scrapping the 5/20 norm.
The FIA representatives have already shared their concerns with the government on this issue, the sources said, adding, "The proposed rules will only help the new airlines at the cost of the old players, who have been operating for years."