The Civil Aviation Ministry has permitted the Indian airlines to use foreign pilots for a short period in view of the chronic shortage of pilots to operate the Boeing 777 aircraft, Union civil aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal was quoted by media reports.
The demand for 777 pilots is such that for the first time, after years, we are allowing Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorization (FATA) pilots,” Bansal said at an aviation summit in the national capital on March 21st.
We don’t allow foreign pilots under normal circumstances. But currently, there is demand with peak summer season about to begin but there is no skilled competency available,” he said. “This shortage has happened since the Air India privatization took place just a year back and that is why today, we don’t have any 777pilots available in the country. Hence we are resorting to taking foreign pilots for short time,” he said.
Air India, which was acquired by the Tata Group last year has announced that it will reduce at least six weekly flights to the United States due to crew shortages over the next 2-3 months. Three to Newark and three to San Francisco, will be trimmed due to crew shortage for the coming 2-3 months,”
On the expansion of aviation infrastructure in the country, Bansal said that green field airports in Jewar (Noida) and Navi Mumbai are expected to be inaugurated by December next year. “Both these projects are on track, and we hope to inaugurate them by November- December next year,” Bansal said. The government is also looking at raising the passenger capacity of the six metro airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai from 320 million to 500 million.
Delhi’s terminal one (T1) expansion work will be completed by August- September this year. “We hope that terminal 1 will expand and the three terminals at Delhi airport collectively will have a capacity of handling 100 million passengers per year,” the official said.
The airport’s fourth runway will get operational by August due to which the air traffic movements correspondingly increase, he said.
“ 100 million is na magic figure which puts you into a different league globally. This will be a great achievement for the country,” Bansal said. Industry experts say that 80 per cent of the international flights land and take off from Delhi as part of the civil aviation ministry’s conscious policy of making Delhi alone the aviation hub of the country. The rest is allocated to Mumbai and all other airports have very few international flights.
Now that we have the necessary infrastructure in place, and we have five or six reasonably big carriers in our country. I do feel that there is great scope in our country for growth in international connectivity”, he said. “Our biggest challenge and our aspiration is to build world-class infrastructure ahead of the curve and we have always been behind the curve”, Bansal said on Tuesday.