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Bad news for elites: Delhi airport proposes curbs on charters, private jets

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Non scheduled operators, which ferry politicians and corporate czars, are likely to be impacted with the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) proposing new norms to regulate their movement.

Last month DIAL issued a draft for general aviation operations policy to ensure optimal utilisation of aircraft capacity for all users and reduce overhead delays and congestion. The operators, however, feel the norms would limit the operational flexibility that they enjoy at present.

Delhi airport is the busiest in the country and handles over 1,200 flights daily. Its three runways can handle 67 flights per hour but the airport is seeing serious slot constraint. 

The Delhi airport, on an average, sees 35-40 general aviation movements. General aviation refers to non-scheduled, private and charter operations.

The draft policy said that the airport operator will issue airfield capacity schedule for every season indicating slots for non-scheduled operators, fifteen days in advance. Also, the proposed rules say that non-scheduled aircraft shall not be permitted to operate without a prior arrival or departure clearance number from the airport operator. Permission for the clearance would be required at least three hours before the arrival or departure and submitted to the air traffic control while filing the flight plan.

At present operators file a flight plan with air traffic control and intimate the Delhi airport about the schedule through their ground handlers or Bird ExecuJet and Indamer, which are assigned to provide support services to general aviation planes. Slot rejection is rare though air traffic controllers at outstation airports can delay departure clearances to an aircraft in case of congestion at Delhi. This is done to reduce aircraft holding and to save fuel. 

DIAL insists that measures are needed to streamline the operations.

“Access for scheduled operators is currently regulated by the slot scheduling process while non-scheduled or general aviation users have no restrictions. This adversely impacts the air navigation service providers’ ability to have a predictable flow of air traffic and optimise the capacity of the airport. Regulation of general aviation flights is critical to ensure optimal utilisation of airport capacity for all users and reduce overhead delays or congestion,” said a spokesperson of GMR group, which runs the Delhi airport.

Operators are opposing DIAL’s draft proposal. ” We want fairness and transparency in slot allocation. Details of available slots should be put up online and there should be no discretion in allocation,” said an industry executive.

“General aviation operators need to have flexibility. If you take that away, what is the purpose of owning a private jet? The proposed regulations could lead to a reduction of movements and hamper growth. We are working with DIAL to address the issue of capacity constraints but feel the proposed regulation is not a solution for same,” said Rohit Kapur, president of Business Aircraft Operators Association. 

The slot constrained Mumbai airport has restrictions in place for general aviation from last few years and non-scheduled operators are not allowed to take off or land during morning and evening peak hours.

Operators are also demanding that Delhi airport should provide better facilities before implementing any changes. Unlike Mumbai, there is no dedicated general aviation terminal at Delhi airport and proposal to develop one has been delayed. There is also a plan to add 63 parking bays for general aviation aircraft in addition to the existing 28.

Creation of a separate terminal is not linked to measures being worked out by DIAL, the GMR group spokesperson said.

CLIPPED WINGS

Delhi airport’s three runways handle over 1200 movements daily.

This includes 35-40 general aviation flights

Regulations proposed to optimise airport capacity. Operators oppose move and fear this could hamper growth.

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