‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat': Some reform boosters but no package for civil aviation

In her forth tranche of economic reforms under the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced some key reform measures for the civil aviation sector to boost its growth prospect, but no relief or stimulus package was offered for the sector to help airlines grounded by lockdown and facing demand shock caused by Covid-19.

The new measures are part of the government’s stimulus package worth ₹20 lakh crore announced earlier by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help to the Indian economy and its various segments that have been hit hard by the COVID -19 and the lockdown measure that followed.

The Finance Minister has announced that restrictions on the utilisation of the Indian airspace will be eased for the civil aviation sector. She stated that at present only 60 per cent of the country’s airspace is freely available for the use of the civil aviation, which is expected to benefit the civil aviation sector in the tune of about Rs 1,000 crore annually from easing of restrictions on the utilisation of the air space.

The measure will also facilitate optimum use of airspace, reduce flying distance and time, and save fuel, ultimately benefiting airlines as well as flyers.

The FM also announced steps to make India a global hub for aircraft Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO). She announced rationalization of tax regime for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul.

The FM also announced that the government would privatise six more airports through auction.

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