Friday, December 4, 2015

Draft National Civil Aviation Policy 2015

Taking Flying to the Masses

According to Draft Policy, the Government, proposed to take Flying to the Masses by making it affordable mode of travel for the Common Man. It aims to ensure that at least one member of India's 30 Crore strong middle class families flies once a year, against present 7 Crore domestic fliers in 2014-15.

Priorities of Common Man ?

No doubt it is a laudable objective, but should it take priority over fulfillment of Common Man inherent rights to Food, Energy, Shelter, Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation, Health Care, Education, Economic Empowerment, Social Security and Basic Human Dignity? It is estimated that around 60 Crore Indians are deprived and cannot meet their essential needs. How is 30 Crore middle class people flying once a year, going to help these deprived lot ?

Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)

As per the draft policy, Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) will come into effect from 1 April 2016, with an all-inclusive airfare not exceeding Rs. 2500 per passenger, indexed to inflation for a one-hour flight on RCS routes. As part of RCS, around 476 un-served or under-served aerodromes and airstrips are proposed to be revived as No-Frills Airports, by offering various incentives / concessions to operators of Short Haul Flights.

Transport Sector & Climate Change

The Planning Commission Expert Group Final Report of April 2014 on “Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth”, highlighted the fact that Transport Sector is a significant contributor to the emissions generated by the country, accounting for about 13 % of the emissions from the energy sector. Out of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the transport sector of about 142 million tons(mt.) of CO2 eq. in the year 2007, Aviation accounts for 10.20 mt, against 6.80 mt from Railways and the balance 125 mt from Road Transport.
 The Report highlighted lower Specific Energy Consumption in Railways, as low as 6% of consumption in Aviation per Passenger KM vide Table 6-6 of Chapter 6- Transport of the Report. Given the relative efficiency of Rail based Transport, the Report recommended increasing the share of Rail for both short distance passenger movement (regional, suburban and urban)and long distance passenger movement.
Impact of Aviation Sector (Rogue Sector) on Climate Change
In attempting to aggregate and quantify the total Climate Impact of Aircraft emissions- heat, particulates, gases etc- the IPCC has estimated that Aviation’s total climate impact is some 2-4 times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone. While there is uncertainty about the exact level of NOx and Water Vapour, Governments have accepted the broad scientific view that they do have an effect.

The IPCC has estimated that Aviation is responsible for around 3.5% of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non CO2 induced effects. It is estimated that Aviation's contribution could grow to 5% of total contribution by 2050, if action is not taken to tackle these emissions. In terms of damage to climate, it is estimated that Flying is 10 times worse than taking to Train. The Air-Travel is estimated to release 75% more CO2 per passenger, mile for mile, than driving an economy sized car.
The Aviation Sector was reported to be responsible for more than 10 % of the UK's impact on the climate and it is the fastest growing source of emissions and the predictions are that aviation will contribute more than 25% by 2050.The main cause of this massive growth of emissions is proliferation of Domestic Short-Haul Routes. As per data available, Domestic Short Haul flights less than 500 Kms are estimated to release 257 gms. CO2 per KM as against 177 gms. in the case of flights > 500 Kms, in comparison with 113 gms for long distance flights.
Adverse Impact of Government Aviation Policy
The Climate Change is the most urgent challenge facing the humanity and the Aviation Policy of the Central & State Governments, is doing the opposite of what is required, by catering to insatiable demands of Aviation Sector, by way of more Airports, Runways, Terminals, Airlines. etc. in the name of economic development. The latest being “Regional Connectivity Scheme”
The subsidies, liberal concessions, loans etc offered to Aviation Sector by taxpayers’ money,(Classic one being the massive loan package given to Kingfisher Airlines by SBI Consortium) disproportionately favours the economically better off, as those of lower income groups, who fly infrequently or not at all. This goes against the very guiding principle of protecting the poor and vulnerable sections of society, through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy, sensitive to Climate Change.
It is of utmost importance and urgency to curtail emissions by restricting the capacity of Aviation Sector- Short-Haul Routes envisaged in “Regional Connectivity Scheme” of Draft National Aviation Policy, without hampering the economic development. The speedy & effective implementation of Recommendations in Section 6.3 of Report on “Low Carbon Strategies for Inclusive Growth” with regard to Transport, will go a long way in combating Climate Change.

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