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Safety & security of passengers priority of Civil Aviation Ministry: Scindia in RS

IANS | December 04, 2023 03:36 PM

NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday said the safety and security of passengers is the priority of the ministry with the BCAS keeping a keen watch on all airports, and in case any airline or airport is found guilty of mistreating a passenger action is taken and penalty imposed.

Scindia made the remarks in the Rajya Sabha on Monday during the Question Hour.

He was responding to a question by Rajya Sabha MP Kartikeya Sharma.

Sharma asked if the ministry was taking any steps to safeguard the rights and the interest of the passengers of airlines just like rights of airline crews and airlines are defined as there are a number of instances which have come to light that passengers were mistreated in the name of safety and procedure.

To this Scindia replied, "There are 517 routes under the UDAN scheme. And we can see the new journey across the country. We will take it to other states too. Safety and security is the priority of our ministry.

"For security, our institute BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) keeps a keen watch on all airports. And for safety DGCA issues CAR (Civil Aviation Rule) to every airline so that the safety of the passengers is kept in mind. Whenever any airline or airport is found guilty of mistreatment, a penalty is imposed on the airline and the airport, " he said.

Sharma then also asked if the ministry has planned to open more pilot training institutes across the country, to which Scindia replied that there are 149 airports, heliports being in operation and we will increase the numbers.

He said that the capacity of the airline will improve. "Air India has placed an order of 470 planes, Indigo has placed an order of 500 planes and in the coming days it will become the backbone of connectivity, " he said.

Meanwhile, NCP Rajya SAbha MP Fauzia Khan questioned that the UDAN scheme is to make air travel accessible for common man but there were problems in the bidding process and they are not able to operate in rural areas. She also pointed out that Nanded airport was constructed as the Sikh community has a sacred place there and the airport is not operational.

Scindia said, "This issue has been discussed in our advisory committee and the question here is that the airline has started its services in Nanded. Some airlines were unable to get economic returns, and so some numbers of flights came down. Giving connectivity to the airport is our priority."

"Nanded is an important place in Maharashtra, but also important for Sikh community for their religion. Problem is not due to the airline's side. It is near Nanded airport. This airport was given to a private sector entity by the state government, which never reimbursed the fees of the AAI. The ATCOs, which we have provided there, had to be withdrawn. The routes were also awarded. I am communicating with the state government and we feel that if the state government takes back the airport from the private entity and starts it on its own, then we can start on those routes, " the minister said.

Meanwhile, Congress MP Rajeev Shukla raised the issue of last minute cancellation by airlines and what steps the government is taking in view of the fog season.

Scindia replied that "as far as cancellation is concerned, we have a process if the airline cancels the flight within one or two hour, then the airline has to arrange for alternate flight and if the flight is delayed by 5 to 6 hours, then it is the responsibility of the airlines to arrange for the hotels for the passengers and for refund and also send them through next flight.

"If anywhere this is not followed then the Ministry takes note and takes action against the airline immediately, " the Minister said.

He also said that in 2021 when he took the charge as the Minister, for fog the ministry started a new process.

"We asked the airlines to increase the number of CAT 1, CAT 2 and CAT 3 trained flight pilots. And asked them to make rules for the same. And we also put a focus that if the flights are not equipped with CAT 1, CAT 2 and CAT 3 then we asked them to operate between the non fog hours. Winter schedule is now made in the month of October, in which the schedule of the airline is made", he said.

He also said that there are 18 to 19 airports in the country where the fog has its effect. "During the fog in FY 2021-22 there was cancellation 0.05 per cent and delays 0.01 per cent because we made the schedule accordingly, " said the minister.

He also said the number of CAT 3 pilots have increased in the country.

The Winter Session commenced on Monday and will conclude on December 22.

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