India’s New Civil Aviation Minister Has a Difficult Job in Hand

by Ajay Prakash
Air India Boeing 777

Jyotiraditya Scindia, the new civil aviation Minister of India, assumed office on July 7, 2021. His predecessor was Hardeep Singh Puri, who has been transferred to another ministry. Incidentally, his father, the flamboyant Madhav Rao Scindia, held the same position in government thirty years ago.

Born in 1971, an undergraduate from Harvard University and a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business, Scindia is not new to governance. He has been a Minister during the Manmohan Singh era as well.

Jyotiraditya Scindia India's New Civil Aviation Minister

Jyotiraditya Scindia India’s New Civil Aviation Minister – Photo Wikipedia

Here is a list of tasks which require his immediate attention:

Restart International Flights

The government has regulated international flights for far too long now. Again, for the nth time, international flights have been suspended until July 31, 2021. With the coronavirus pandemic subsiding in many parts of the world, international travel must be kick-started immediately.

International Travel Pass

The ministry must sort out India’s stand on participating in the IATA Travel Passport. So far, there has been no clear indication given by the government. There has also been controversy surrounding India’s citizens’ ability to use the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate, also known as the Green Passport.

A source told PTI:

We have also conveyed to EU member state that India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.”

Such a statement does not help resolve the matter.

Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF)

The prices of petroleum products in the country have skyrocketed in the last few months primarily due to the high taxation regime in the country. Though international crude prices have risen, a 30 percent tax on ATF doesn’t help.

Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) prices, also known as jet fuel, soared to INR 68,262 ($916) per kiloliter (KL) in Delhi on July 8, around 34% more expensive than in January 2021. Jet Fuel was reportedly at INR 50,979 ($684) in January 2021.

Jet Fuels Prices IATA

Jet Fuels Prices IATA

ATF has gone up by around 80 percent over last years prices in July 2020.

Air Safety

The report of last year’s Air India Express fatal crash at Kozhikode has been long delayed, beyond a reasonable limit. The maximum  period of six months for submission of the report has long elapsed. The audit from ICAO and US regulator FAA is due any moment. Any adverse observations will result in airlines from India not being able to add new routes to the United States.

Air India Sale

Last, but not least, comes the sale of Air India. With several attempts during the past decade to do this, this is one sale that never seems to come through. The Minister will need all his skills to bring it to a successful closure.

A new Minister with a good record of governance. Will he be able to pull the industry out of the woods? Your comments are welcome, as always.

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