The Draft National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2015 proposes to boost regional connectivity in the country through the implementation of a Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). The RCS is aimed at making financially unviable, but economically important flights on certain regional routes a reality.
But for this to come true, many moves need to be made. The Ministry claims that there are 476 airstrips / aerodromes / airports in the country. Question is, how many of them are worthy of immediate operation? Today, airlines operate into and out of just 76 airports. What is the condition of the remainder airports?
The Ministry, in its bid to promote regional connectivity, must be specific about what it will fund. We touch upon this, and also try to do the numbers about how much money the Ministry may be able to raise, and with that money, how many regional aircraft may be operated. And which aircraft types are the most likely ones for the near term and the long term.
The RCS will spell the boom of regional aviation in India, only if implemented right. But it will also tax regular airlines, and not offer any viability gap funding for these airlines. There are challenges, and there are opportunities. To learn more, please click here.
The Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) was introduced in 1994 to provide air connectivity to Jammu & Kashmir, North East, Island territories, and Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities, by way of internal cross-subsidy by airlines, using their profits on 12 trunk routes.
Nearly 20 years after its introduction, the ministry is revisiting the rules to keep the rule relevant in today’s domestic scenario.
The ministry, as you will learn, is forcing regular scheduled airlines to deploy more capacity on category (CAT) II and IIA and III routes, and as part of the regional connectivity scheme, airlines will have to contribute to the Ministry’s Viability Gap Fund (VGF) 2% of the fare of almost all tickets sold.
Under India’s Companies Act of 2013, companies that have a net worth of $80 million, a turnover of at least $160 million, or net profits of at least $800,000 must develop a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy and spend a minimum of at-least 2% of net profit.
In this case, the Ministry is imposing a 2% on ticket revenues, not profits, irrespective of the size or health of the airline. And is forcing airplanes to fly more onto ‘unprofitable’ routes, without any subsidy, which effectively increases the amount of CSR done in the Indian aviation industry, despite the thin margins and heavy losses.
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The Airbus A350 program seems to be on track for the planned 12 month certification program, and the planned entry into service (EIS) in what was earlier reported by Airbus as the “second half of 2014”, and now, more precisely, “Q4 2014”; On Thursday 2nd January 2014 Airbus rolled-out its third A350 XWB flight-test aircraft, MSN2, from the paint shop in Toulouse.
The rolling out of the A350 fitted with a cabin was well timed: January 1st 2014 marked 100 years since the first scheduled commercial airline flight took off, with just one passenger, from St-Pertersburg, Florida, to Tampa, Florida, in a flight that lasted just 23 minutes.
The first A350 to enter commercial service will be for Qatar Airways.
This aircraft, F-WWCF, is the first of two A350 flight test aircraft to be equipped with a full passenger cabin interior, and features a distinctive “Carbon" signature livery to reflect its primary construction from advanced materials. 53% of the A350 XWB’s airframe is made-up of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) including Airbus’ first carbon-fibre fuselage.
The other aircraft to be fitted with a cabin will be MSN 5, which is in the final assembly line and is expected to fly in a few months. MSN 1, 3 and 4 are dedicated to avionics, noise testing, and various other systems work through the flight test program. These three aircraft will not be fitted with a cabin, but rather, equipped with heavy flight test installation.
MSN2 will join the A350 XWB flight test fleet in the coming weeks and will be the first A350 to transport passengers when it undertakes the Early Long Flights (ELF) later in the year. The “passengers” will be Airbus employees.