THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Aviation is a fast growing sector in the country and India is expected to become the third largest aviation market by 2020 and the largest by 2030. Also, major airlines are spreading their wings in the country with seven of them placing a cumulative order for around 1,329 aircraft. An expansion which is being billed as the one of the largest ever in the country in the recent times. Airports too are gearing up to meet an increased traffic. Kerala, which already has three international airports and another one all set to become operational in a few months, is tremendous growth in the aviation sector. Already the feasibility study for two more airports is going on in South and North Kerala.
This growth in the aviation sector has given wings to the dreams of many. The lure of the glamour and lifestyle that the job entails, has many enrolling in the various institutions that offer courses like ticketing, cargo handling and aviation in general. However, these gullible youngsters get taken for a ride by institutions which claim affiliation to hitherto unheard organizations. The students realise their mistake only when they pass out and enter the job market.
Hundreds of institutes have mushroomed across the state to cash in on the youngsters’ dream to build a career in aviation. The growing demand for staff coupled with lack of proper government intervention in the sector is acting as fodder for these fake institution.
There are only around 15 IATA accredited training centers and one IATA accredited training school approved by the DGCA in Kerala, apart from the government-owned Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) which offers diploma courses in various disciplines. However, today there are hundreds of non-IATA institutes offering courses for students from 10th standard onwards due to shortage of skilled and semi-skilled manpower in aviation industry.
These fake institutes offer courses under BSS certification and lure youths promising them Rs 4 to 5 lakh as salary as cabin crew clubbed with airport management. The students who make a beeline for such courses hail from the middle and lower middle class families. They seek admission in these institution without bothering to cross check their course titles, syllabus, accreditations or certifications, said Biji Eapen, chairman and CEO of the only IATA accredited training school in Kerala, which provides training in various categories of ‘dangerous goods regulation’.
“I was wondering about the courses offered by institutes under the certification of BSS (Bharat Sevak Samaj). In fact BSS is a national development agency promoted by planning commission, Government of India in 1952 and its skill certificate is attested by Union Ministry of External Affairs. Unfortunately, it does not have any link or relation to tourism or aviation segments. Institutes are required to make courses, objectives, syllabus, question paper and answers. They then get it approved by any one of the bogus institutional authorities or societies,” he said.
An expert in the field said there are many institutions which offer placements to students who enrol in their institutions. However, the ground fact is that these institutions only have tie-ups with agencies operating in the air ticketing and cargo fields.
The modus operandi of these fake institutions
These institutions enter into an agreement with the so called agencies and give them a share of the fee collected from the students. In return the agencies provide temporary employment to the students who pass out from these institutions. Once the students realise that they have been duped they ditch the job and the cycle continues! Many of students are forced to go in for other courses to get a job.
Education expert and former member of State Planning Board G Vijayaraghavan said the parents and their wards should cross check and try to get information like how many students who had studied in the institution have received placements or job with major airline companies or leading agencies in the sector after passing out. Also, they should enquire about the accreditation of the institutions, certification of the courses on offer, quality of the faculty and track record of the institution before enrolling, he said.
Recently, the students and parents of one such institution in Kozhikode went on a hunger strike outside the college which offered courses in aviation, marine, acting etc. They accused the institution of cheating them. Apparently, the institution was not affiliated to any university or IATA. The event has even seriously affected the reputation of IATA institutes all over Kerala, especially in Malabar region where they had to face severe criticism, says the representatives of IATA institutes.
Ajith Nair, coordinator, Akbar academy of aviation studies, said the parents should at least Google the list of IATA accredited courses, authorised training centers and schools in India before enrolling their wards. The website will provide the details of the IATA accredited courses and training centers at each city in the country, he said. However, this doesn’t mean that all is well in the IATA authorised training centers. Members of the IATA ATC registered their displeasure over IATA acting as a money minting machine and providing approvals to everyone who approaches it. Earlier IATA did have a regulatory criteria including inspection and verifications in place. But today, everything is limited to paper presentations. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can get an approval, they said.
What is IATA?
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines. Consisting of 274 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 83% of total Available Seat Kilometers air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards.
What is the IATA course?
The IATA/UFTAA programme jointly offered by International Air Transport Association along with the United Federation of Travel Agents’ Association is the most complete travel and tourism training programme designed for those who wish to start a career in the travel and tourism industry or upgrade their professional competence. The qualifications offered are recognized under the terms of the IATA Resolutions applicable to IATA’s accreditation of travel agents.
Check validity of training certificate
Check the authenticity of a training certificate awarded by an IATA Accredited Training School (ATS) This validation tool will allow you to verify the validity of a training certificate issued by an IATA Accredited Training School (ATS). ATSs are independent organizations authorized by IATA to deliver training programs in the field of Cargo and Dangerous Goods Regulations.
The accredited centres
There are only around 15 IATA accredited training centers and one IATA accredited training school approved by the DGCA in Kerala, apart from the government-owned Kerala Institute of Tourism and Travel Studies (KITTS) which offers diploma courses in various disciplines.