Aviation Ministry urges state govts to redue Value-Added Tax on ATF

An infant looking at the poster of an aircraft at Wings India 2018 at Begumpet airport in Hyderabad on Friday | Express

"State governments should consider decreasing the tax on aviation fuel, to decrease burden on airline operators", said RN Choubey, Secretary of Civil Aviation, speaking at the inaugural of Wings India 2018 the flagship event of aviation sector in Hyderabad.

According to agency reports, aviation companies including InterGlobe Aviation's IndiGo, Turkey's Celebi Aviation Holdings and Tata Group have expressed interest in buying some of Air India's businesses.

In January, India cleared a proposal to allow foreign investors to own up to a 49% stake in Air India, paving the way for global airlines to also bid for the loss-making carrier.

A group headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with Rothschild and Ernst & Young as consultants has been appointed to chalk out the strategy for Air India's stake sale.

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Flying high on the 20% growth clocked by the Indian civil aviation industry over the past three years, the government is pulling out all the stops to put the sector on the fast track - be it the divestment of PSUs like Air India or Pawan Hans, aggressive expansion of aviation infrastructure or even sharper focus on skill development.

However, aviation think tank CAPA said that postponing disinvestment of Air India by five years will further erode its value. "A revised EoI for Pawan Hans will also be coming forward around the same time", Choubey said.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture had concluded that the government should review its decision to privatise or disinvest Air India and explore the possibility of "an alternative to disinvestment of our national carrier which is our national pride". The government has pumped Dollars 3.6 billion since 2012 to bail out the airline. "If the oil prices are soft, we will grow at the rate of 15 percent for the next 20 years of time", Mr Choubey said. However, because of the increasing oil prices, the growth this fiscal is expected to be around 17.5 per cent. Nevertheless, if oil prices remain below United States dollars 80 per barrel, the travel demand is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 per cent over the next 20 years, he said. After all, there is a limit to how many hotels you can build outside the airport only for passengers. He added this will be completed in the next six months.

He said that the country which had only 395 aircrafts in 65 years of time is poised to add 900 aircrafts and the orders have been placed.

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