Gopinath Please sir, can I have some more

GORUR Gopinath, founder of India’s debt-grounded Air Deccan, has called on the government to subsidise domestic airlines.

“It is time we demanded a long-term strategic vision for Indian aviation from the prime minister,” he said saying that none of the Indian government’s stimulus plans had had any positive impact on the aviation sector.

“Airlines are themselves partially and in some cases largely responsible for the crisis they are in today,” he added. “They have failed to build a sustainable aviation model suitable for the country.”

Gopinath started Deccan 360 in mid-2009 and estimated the airline would have revenues of US$73.5 million by the end of the financial year 2010, but it only made $9 million, with losses of $44 million.

Gopinath admitted that airlines needed to “tighten their belts” and “become more innovative and efficient” before the government considered paying off their crippling debts. But he said that governmental aviation organisations also needed to change.

“Cartelisation takes place because there is no long-term civil aviation vision, the competition commission is yet to function properly and the aviation regulator is still not fully empowered and has a limited role in airports, which have become monopolies. There is a huge, apathetic bureaucracy, monopolies like the DGCA still labouring under aircraft rules framed in 1937, discretionary allotments and decision-making, and corruption in various aspects of the business.

“It is time the prime minister took some initiative and came out with a long-term strategic vision for a vibrant aviation sector, or the airlines will collapse.”

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