Intra-State Aviation Plan: Norms Vanish into Thin Air

Tender floated by GA Dept to invite operators for offering flights has gaping loopholes

Published: 18th April 2015 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th April 2015 06:04 AM   |  A+A-

BHUBANESWAR:Air passengers’ interest apparently does not mean much to the Odisha Government which has thrown all safety norms to the wind while seeking to introduce intra-State air connectivity soon.

Gaping loopholes mar the tender floated by the General Administration (GA) Department to invite operators for offering flights between different cities like Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Jeypore as safety issues have been given a complete go-by.

The tender, which was uploaded on Centre for Modernising Government Initiative (CMGI) website on April 5, does not make any mention of technical parameters that a prospective operator must have to fly small aircraft on a commercial basis to three sectors of the State.

Although the column on bidders’ eligibility mentions technical and financial capability, it completely forgets to outline the technical bidding parameters. All that the tender document seeks from the bidder is if it is in possession of non- scheduled operators permit (NSOP) or NOC from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, under the Ministry, uploads the NSOP or NOC granted to various operators as well as the status of applications on a quarterly basis.

Bizarre as it is, the Department does not look for experience of the bidders in aviation sector, size of the fleet, age of the aircraft, presence in the State as well as their infrastructure though these are standard norms for any air operation.

Moreover, the tender document does not even stipulate the minimum number of aircraft the operators must fly to complete the mandatory 200 hours of flying in a month but says that the bidder must deploy a third aircraft in the event others are grounded for some reason.

Major technical glitches apart, the Department goes all out to provide financial support to operators instead of looking to make revenue from such commercial operations. The tender document says the selected operator would get a subsidy of Rs 75 lakh a month for completing 200 hours of flying which gives scope to the bidder to quote a price to avail subsidy instead of making the activity commercially successful. Nowhere in the document, a revenue model has been prescribed while it offers a lot of freebies to the operator.

All that the GA Department has wanted is to know if the bidder has a net worth of Rs 6 crore and annual turnover of Rs 45 crore.

The intra-State air connectivity within Odisha looks to connect Bhubaneswar to Rourkela, Sambalpur/Jharsuguda and Jeypore. It is mostly aimed at corporate clientele.

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