DGCA lacks inspectors to ensure air safety, parliament told

India's minister of state for civil aviation K C Venugopal admitted to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had downgraded India's safety ratings ''primarily'' due to an insufficient number of regular Flight Operation Inspectors (FOIs) in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, resulting in its "inability to have effective safety oversight" of airline operators (See:US slaps curbs on Indian airlines for flouting global norms).

Venugopal added in answer to questions that the FAA downgrade would not have any impact on Air India's joining Star Alliance. The global airlines grouping "has confirmed that the FAA safety assessment is a matter for the respective governments and aviation authorities and the downgrade has no direct impact on the planned integration of AIr India into Star Alliance," he said (Air India all set to fly into Star Alliance).

In reply to other questions, he said low-cost carriers JetLite and SpiceJet, along inevitably with the state-run 'national carrier' Air India, suffered operating losses in the financial year that ends next month, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday.

The operating losses for these airlines are Rs3,159.6 crore for AI, Rs246.8 crore for JetLite and Rs279.8 crore for SpiceJet, minister of state for civil aviation K C Venugopal said in reply to a question.

On the other hand, Jet Airways, IndiGo and GoAir reported operating profits of Rs122.6 crore, Rs795.8 crore and Rs85.1 crore respectively during the same period,.

On the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), Venugopal said till 2012-13, it had earned Rs9716.84 crore, of which Rs4468.77 crore was the share of the Airports Authority of India.

Last year, the government received seven proposals for initial no-objection certificates (NOCs) to start scheduled flight operations, including AirAsia India and Tata-SIA Airlines Ltd. Of these, AirAsia India was granted initial NOC. In-principle approval for the import of ten Airbus A-320-200 aircraft was also given to this company in December last year.

Besides Tata-SIA and AirAsia India, the other firms which applied for NOC are Airone Aviation Services, Zexus Air Services, Freedom Aviation, Air Carnival and Turbo Megha Airways, Venugopal said.