The government must use the crisis posed by COVID-19 to bring about structural changes in the aviation sector pending for several years, including bringing ATF under GST and revisiting airport privatisation model, SpiceJet Chairman and Managing Director Ajay Singh said on Tuesday.
"Apart from short term fixes, the government must bring about a reform we have sought for so long. It should bring ATF under GST, which will make Indian airlines cost efficient as compared to the airlines around the world and use the crisis to help our airlines to increase their footprint in the region as well as across the world," Mr. Singh said at a web-conference hosted by the Bird Group.
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He also suggested revisiting the privatisation structure of airports, which adds to the cost of air travel. He said that the structure of airport business is such that first the Airports Authority of India hands over the concession for operations and management of airports to a private player, which in turn contracts different agencies for various services such as ground handling services, check-in services, etc. "They need to maximise profit, which comes from airlines and passengers. These kind of anomalies need to be addressed," Mr. Singh added.
He also hinted at protectionist measures to favour Indian airlines and proposed that the government must follow the example of Gulf countries and China, which prioritise the interest of their carriers over foreign ones.
Talking about the immediate needs of the sector, he reiterated the demands made by the industry and sought help in payment of salaries, exemption of airport charges, fuel on credit with interest subvention.