For making air travel prices more nominal and improving regional connectivity, the Defence Ministry was urged to let smaller aircrafts land at defence-ministry-controlled airports without landing charges.
The Civil Aviation Ministry pleaded that exemption from landing charges at airports belonging to the armed forces but used for commercial flights also (called Civil Enclaves), would help airlines save on cost and then pass on the benefits to passengers by way of lowering ticket prices.
Goa, Pune, Port Blair, Srinagar, and Bagdogra are a few such Civil Enclaves among over 23 in the country where scheduled domestic airlines operate.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said “The Ministry of Defence has been requested to consider exemption from landing charges on aircraft with a maximum certified capacity of less than 80 seats, being operated by domestic scheduled operators at defence airfields,” in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
As per the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) issued by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the defence authorities collect the landing charges at Civil Enclaves.
An executive from a private airline told a news agency: “If smaller aircraft are exempted from paying landing and parking fees at Civil Enclaves, there would definitely be an improvement in connectivity at these airports. Some positive impact on airfare would also definitely come.”
He also said that many aircraft carriers have adopted smaller aircraft like ATRs and Bombardier 400s to launch new flights to various tier-II towns (smaller towns like Pune, Mangaluru, Cochin etc.). Further, while these aircraft are exempted from landing charges at various Public-Private partnership (PPP) airports and those owned and run by Airports Authority of India (AAI), they are required to pay landing fees at Civil Enclaves.
Leading airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet have added smaller cities and towns in their network by inducting smaller aircraft in their fleet. Alliance Air, the regional sub-section of Air India, has also been adding more towns to its destinations using its ATR fleet.