The ministry of civil aviation ( MOCA) is considering to remove 5/20 rule in January 2015.This move will let Tata-SIA joint venture Vistara and AirAsia India to fly International Routes.As per the current requirement an airline can fly international routes after five years of domestic flying and only if it possesses a 20 aircraft fleet.
Vistara and AirAsia India are keen to fly international routes right away. “We are planning to link this to regional flights,” said an official in the civil aviation ministry who asked not to be identified. The number of flights these airlines can operate on international routes will be linked to the number they operate on regional routes, this person explained.
The exact proportion of international flights to regional ones is being discussed and will be part of the civil aviation policy that is expected on 10 January. Air Asia has delayed the delivery of two Airbus A 320 aircraft till the new policy comes out. Similarly Vistara has also delayed the delivery of aircraft as the airline will get AOP in this week.
This requirement will be in addition to the current rules that mandate that airlines operate a certain number of flights to remote areas such as the Andamans, the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir. Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has always been clear that he is not in favour of the so-called 5-20 rule, but the change being considered now may well be a way to mollify existing airlines. “We have to be fair to current airlines also who have been complaining that it’s unfair to remove that rule as they have also waited to fly out”.
These existing airlines will not have to maintain a proportion of regional flights to fly international routes, he said, adding that this could change. Airlines such as IndiGo and SpiceJet waited five years before they could fly abroad. Air India is the oldest international carrier in India dating back to 1932 while Jet Airways took to the skies last decade. State-owned Air India, too, has told the civil aviation ministry that it does not want the 5-20 rule to be scrapped.
“This will be the final nail in the coffin of Air India,” an Air India official who declined to be named said. “The government is giving a bailout of Rs.30,000 crore. On the other hand, it cannot take policy decisions that it promised it will not take under TAP (turnaround plan)” Both Vistara and AirAsia India have not bought planes to fly shorter routes and it is unclear if they will be doing so. Under current guidelines, airlines can also buy seats from regional airlines or other national airlines who fly short haul flights if they do not want to fly on their own.