Yashwant Bhave is chairperson, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority

New Delhi: Yashwant S Bhave, has been appointed as the country's first chairperson of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, (AERA). A new watchdog body, AERA will decide on a number of important issues, such as landing fees for airlines and tariff for various ground operations at airports.

A retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, Bhave has held different positions in the government of Maharashtra including that of chief executive of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and managing director of Small Scale Industries Development Corporation (SIDC).

He has also served in the department of administrative reforms, pensions and public grievances as well as special secretary (telecom) and secretary (Telecom Commission).

Bhave's appointment comes at a time of escalating problems in India's aviation sector, with the latest spat threatening to leave passengers grounded on 18 August, when a number of private airlines will ground their aircraft for a day.

Private operators are now asking the central government for a bailout package to help them tide over the economic crisis which they claim has escalated their collective losses to over $2 billion.

''An immediate challenge to AERA is that it will have to ensure that the airport charges are calibrated so as not to unnecessarily burden the airlines and passengers, and at the same time are remunerative enough for airport operators,'' an official statement announcing Bhave's appointment said.

The regulator is likely to start work in the next few months.

The regulatory authority, set up in 2008, will also address issues such as development fees and passengers service fees at airports.