Aircraft Amendment Bill 2020 Passed In Parliament

Aircraft (Amendment) Bill 2020 Passed In Parliament

The Aircraft Amendment Bill 2020 was recently passed in the Parliament, which now awaits approval from the President of India. The move would add autonomy and authority to the aviation agencies, which has been on demand since long.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Announcement
On 15 September 2020, the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed in the Rajya Sabha; the bill was approved by the Lok Sabha in March 2020. The amendment would be modifying the Aircraft Act, 1934.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reported that 300,000 passengers were managed by Indian airports daily before the Covid-19 pandemic, and also announced the addition of 100 new airports by 2024.

Minister Puri declared that suggestions by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) after audit in 2012 have been incorporated in the amendment.

  • Aviation agencies like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) would now be converted into statutory bodies.
    The move grants more authority in decision making and penal action to the agencies, each of which would have a Director-General appointed by the Central Government.

  • DGCA would supervise on safety measures and regulatory functions, while the BCAS would regulate functioning concerning security in civil aviation. The AAIB would work on investigations regarding aircraft accidents.
  • Highest fine has been increased from ₹10 lakhs to ₹1 crore. These fines are levied on offences like carrying banned items in the plane (ammunition, explosives etc) or for illegal construction in the vicinity of an airport).
  • Provision for suspending/canceling of “licence, certificate of approval” for breach of rules under the Act has been added. These licenses include those provided for establishing and maintaining airport systems and the aircrafts.
  • Aircraft of any “armed forces” besides Navy, Military and Airforce would also be exempted now from the Aircraft Act – includes agencies like BSF. Earlier, only Army, Navy and Airforce aircraft were exempted from the Act.
  • Shivkar Bāpuji Talpade was an Indian technical instructor in the art and craft department of Sir JJ School of Art, who, as per some reports, constructed the first unmanned aircraft in 1895. A film based on the life of Talpade, Hawaizaada, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, was released in 2015.
  • Hardeep Singh Puri is an Indian politician and the current Civil Aviation Minister of India. Hardeep has served as Joint secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of External Affairs from 1994 to 1997 and from 1999 to 2002. 
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines founded in 1945. Consisting in 2016 of 290 airlines, primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total available seat miles air traffic.

How To Travel By Air & Rail During Lockdown

After a break of around 2 months, domestic flights resumed from 25 May, 2020. A similar restart would be observed in Railways’ case, where trains will restart from 1 June, 2020 after a brief restart in mid-May. Air and Rail travel would commence with new safety protocols for passengers.

Crux of the Matter

Air Travel – What To Keep In Mind?
Following protocols would have to be observed by the passengers for domestic flights:

  • Thermal scanning would be mandatory.
  • Aarogya-Setu app is compulsory for passengers.
  • Passengers from containment zones would not be allowed to the flight.
  • Flights would be operating at 1/3rd of the total capacity to maintain social distancing norms.
  • Reporting time would be 2 hours before the departure to facilitate testing.
  • Only 1 cabin bag and 1 check-in bag would be allowed.
  • A face mask is compulsory for the airport and during the flight journey.
  • Only online check-ins would be available to avoid physical contact.
  • All baggage would be sanitized.
  • No provision of meals on the flight.
  • Passengers would be allowed to bring dry food but advised not to eat in the flight as the process would require the removal of safety masks.

Different States, Different Measures
Different states have applied different measures for quarantine as well as the number of operating flights.

All passengers would be put on a 14-day quarantine, with the passengers being distributed equally in home quarantine and government quarantine.

Jammu & Kashmir
All passengers would be put in govt quarantine for 14 days. Afterward, they would be tested for the Coronavirus and would be allowed to leave only if found negative.

West Bengal
West Bengal would be starting flights from 28 May due to the recent cyclone Amphan. The state would begin with 20 flights daily.

All passengers would be put in home quarantine for 14 days.

Maharashtra would be allowing only 25 takeoffs and 25 landings per day initially, with the number to be increased in due time.

Railways To Resume With Protocols
Indian Railways would resume 200 trains from 1 June 2020 after a 2 months hiatus with a brief restart occurring in mid-May. The trains would have both A/C and non-A/C coaches. Bookings would be done only online, with no provision of offline reservations currently. Similarly, no tatkal or premium booking would be available. Passengers have to report 1.5 hours before the departure time for safety procedures. Thermal scanning would be compulsory, and only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed. The first chart would be prepared 4 hours before the departure time.

  • Aviointeriors S.p.A. is an Italian manufacturer of airline seats. Aviointeriors last month released a rendering of its “Janus” seat, which uses a glass partition and a reversed middle seat to mitigate the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
  • In journalism, the jet set is a term for an international social group of wealthy people who travel the world to participate in social activities unavailable to ordinary people. The term came from the lifestyle of traveling from one stylish or exotic place to another via jet plane. The phrase came into existence post-war era, during the jet-age.
  • Air India’s mascot, the Maharajah was created by Bobby Kooka, the then-commercial director of Air India, and Umesh Rao, an artist with J. Walter Thompson Limited in 1946. The Maharajah was given a makeover in 2015 and the brand is represented by a younger version.

Bailout Hopes Dashed, SpiceJet Seeks Buyout

Covid-19 has the Aviation Industry in its claws. India’s SpiceJet Airlines is next in the series after Virgin Australia that is looking for a buyout to continue its operations after no direct aid was provided under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ package.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Hard Landing For SpiceJet
Due to lockdown, airlines are facing a huge slump in demand and most of the fleet of planes are grounded. As revenues have stopped, airlines across the world are on the verge of bankruptcy. India’s SpiceJet is one such airline and is now looking for a buyout after the government did not offer any bailout. The net worth of the company has gone down to negative ₹850 crores. Further uncertainty over the extension of lockdown is a serious problem for airlines.

While SpiceJet is facing hardships, IndiGo Airlines has been able to sustain itself with the free cash of ₹9,412.8 crores. As per the latest guidelines from the Indian government, all commercial flights have been suspended till 31st May. IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir have started taking bookings for international flights in June.

Where Is The Government?
Indian Government has declared no direct aid to Airlines in the Atmanirbhar package.
However, it has opened military airspace routes for commercial planes. This move will save fuel and time of commercial airlines. This gain is in a way compensation for the losses of lockdown. The remaining profit will help in reducing the flight ticket prices.

Moreover, the government has initiated the process of making India a global hub of the Aviation Industry. Under this initiative aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul will become cheap and easily accessible for Indian Airlines in the longer run. Recently, the government put debt-ridden government-owned Air India’s 100% stake on sale.

Global Scenario
The Global Aviation industry is facing a very tough time due to the pandemic. It is estimated that by ending of May 2020, most of the Airlines in the world will be on the verge of bankruptcy. One of the world’s oldest airlines, Avianca Airlines of Columbia filed for bankruptcy. Even Virgin Australia is looking for a buyer.

On the other hand, the US has bailed out commercial airline players with a support package of $25 billion. The national interest of nations over cooperation is a major threat to the aviation industry. Global Aviation Industry is likely to face a loss of $314 billion in revenue.

  • The origins of SpiceJet can be traced back to March 1984 when the company was established by Indian industrialist S. K. Modi to provide private air taxi services. On 17 February 1993, the company was named as MG Express. In 2004, the company was acquired by Ajay Singh and the airline planned to restart operations as SpiceJet following the low-cost model.
  • Avianca Airlines, the second oldest functioning airline of the world from Colombia, has filed for bankruptcy following loss due to worldwide Covid-19 lockdown. Avianca airlines was founded in 1919.
  • In June 2015, the airline unveiled its current logo with a new tagline ‘Red. Hot. Spicy.’ SpiceJet names all its aircraft with the name of Indian spice.

One Of The Oldest Airlines Goes Bankrupt

Avianca Airlines, the second oldest functioning airline of the world from Colombia, has filed for bankruptcy following loss due to worldwide Covid-19 lockdown. A number of airlines have taken similar measures to revive or close down their companies following a huge slump in demand and an increase in losses.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Avianca Airlines
The 2nd oldest functioning airline in the world, Avianca airlines was found in 1919. It was the 3rd largest airline in Latin America by market share. It employed 21,000 people directly, of which 14,000 were from Colombia. Already in a debt of $7.3 billion by 2019, the company saw a loss of 80% of its revenue due to worldwide lockdown.
The airlines has filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11 in US Court. The following changes to occur:

  • The debtor would continue to operate under the provision of “Debtor in Possession” (DIP), wherein despite owing debt to creditors, the company continues operations
  • Court would preside over major decisions like expansion, sale of assets, etc.
  • The measure helps in the company’s revival instead of its liquidation

Virgin Australia in the Same Plane
Virgin Australia has moved for ‘voluntary administration’ due to similar losses. It is the 2nd largest airlines in Australia, accounting for 31% of domestic flights before the lockdown. It had a workforce of around 10,000 employees. Already in debt of ~$7 billion, the airlines had further losses due to lockdown. Virgin Australia has applied for ‘voluntary administration’, under which following changes will ensue:

  • A court-appointed Registered Liquidator would be appointed as an administrator to close down the company
  • The administrator would sell company assets with the goal of paying off as many creditors as possible
  • The administrator would investigate the cause of company’s dismal economy

Impact of Lockdown on Airlines
Airlines all over the world may face a loss of $120 billion of passenger airfare, as per International Air Transport Association (IATA). However, cargo planes are less affected as they continue to carry essential goods, albeit at a reduced rate. Some airlines are reducing their workforce like Virgin Atlantic, which has reduced it by 30% while seeking investors to revive the company instead of liquidating.

  • In its annual shareholder’s meeting in the first week of May, billionaire Warren Buffett announced that his company Berkshire Hathaway has sold all of its shares in the four largest US airlines. Mr Buffett’s comments came just hours after Berkshire Hathaway announced a record $50bn net first quarter loss.
  • Passenger airlines have suffered a worldwide lockdown for the first time since World War II. Commercial aviation grew rapidly after WWII as the experience of designing bombers helped in building heavy commercial aircrafts.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, legally Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij N.V., is the flag carrier airline of the Netherlands. It is the oldest airline in the world still operating. The first airline company was DELAG from Germany, which was established a decade before KLM in 1909 but ceased its operations in 1935.

Airlines may take a long time to recover from COVID-19

Aviation sector is facing problems such as slump in demand, liquidity crunch, job losses, etc. due to COVID-19. Experts are sure that they are unsure about when airlines will recover to pre-pandemic level.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Turning to Paper Planes?
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global air revenue is likely to fall by $314 billion due to slump in demand. As the international borders are closed, almost 17,000 out of 28,000 passenger planes in the world are parked in the hangar. This halt in the operations has put 25 million jobs at risk. In the USA 95% fall in demand for flights has been observed in comparison to the last year. According to an IATA survey, 40% of customers have estimated a 6 months period to have a safe flight.

Low oil prices may help airlines in managing costs if flight services resume. Airlines have also expedited the retirement process of old high fuel consuming airplanes due to slowdown in the aviation sectors. Average jet fuel demand in the world is 8 million barrels per day which will see a fall of 2.1 million barrels per day on average by the end of 2020. 

What Boeing President David Calhoun Said
“Air travels will take years to return to the pre-pandemic level. Post pandemic, business sizes will be smaller and the demands of customers will be different. To keep the aviation industry alive, measures like reducing operating cost, suspension of dividend payments, deprioritizing investment strategies, etc. have been taken by Boeing. Despite a 25$ billion package by the US government to support aviation companies, it will take years to reach normal operations.”

Further airplane manufacturing companies like Boeing and Airbus have warned that to return to the normal stage of operation, the aviation sector will take time till 2023 or 2024

  • Air India was founded by J. R. D. Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932. After World War II, it became a public limited company and was renamed as Air India.
  • The 2 major airliner manufacturers are Airbus and Boeing. While Airbus is a European multinational aerospace corporation, Boeing is an American multinational corporation. Airbus is the current leading manufacturer out of the two.
  • Virgin Atlantic International Limited, is a British airline with its head office in Crawley, England. The airline was established in 1984 as British Atlantic Airways. In order to expand its business, it’s Virgin Galactic plans to start taking people to space on its SpaceShipTwo. The 90-minute flights cost $250,000 and passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness and be able to see the earth from space.