labels: News reports, Airports
Air traffic management could be taken out of AAI purview news
15 September 2008

New Delhi: Indian air navigation services could soon no longer be a part of the Airport Authority of India's responsibilities.

The virtual lifeline of an airport, air navigation services could soon be made independent of the AAI's responsibility, paving the way for their upgradation and evolution into a world class service. Air Navigation Services include communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic control.

Reports indicate that the government is planning to set in motion plans to trim AAI's responsibilities.

Government sources indicate that in most countries, airport operators do not look after air traffic, as they are usually a private party, and are not government controlled. They say that a critical service such as air traffic management and navigation is generally kept under government control.  Moreover, sources say that private airport operators say that the AAI has an upper hand when it comes to levying numerous navigation charges, and even cite conflict of interest.

Two government panels, the Naresh Chandra panel, and the earlier Roy Paul committee had recommended separating air navigation from overall airport management. The civil aviation ministry had asked consulting firm KPMG for a way forward, and they too recommended making air navigation a function independent of the AAI.

Back in June 2008, the AAI's executive director had also mooted hiving off  air traffic management. Airports Authority of India (AAI) executive director VK Kalra had said that the idea for the privatisation of India's air traffic management (ATM) system has been floated. These services are currently handled by the AAI.

The privatisation of India's ATM system could be a highly debated issue, given the safety and security implication it has in the aviation sector. Moreover, with the current year being an election year, privatisation of India's airspace is realistically unlikely to occur any time soon. However, corporatisation is a more likely step, in which case the ATM services would be managed by a separate government owned entity. (See: Idea of privatisation of air traffic management floated: AAI Executive Director

Amongst the proposals thus far, there is one that proposes to hive off the air traffic control into a separate ATC company that works for AAI on a contract basis. The idea is that this would allow it to work for any air navigation company globally, though the feasibility of this plan is questioned usually on the grounds of national security.

Another proposal proposes to hive off the air navigational services into a government-owned corporation, in which the AAI would hold a stake and there would be adequate representation from the aviation sector. Experts opine that this would allow room for responsibility and credit for good performance, and ensure focus on their core function.

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Air traffic management could be taken out of AAI purview