New Delhi [India], Mar 17 (ANI): Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday suggested convening a special meeting of GST council to bring aviation turbine fuel (ATF) under the GST.
He also said that there will be zero tolerance on issues of flight security and noted that airlines had been given suggestions to deal with the impact of coronavirus.
Replying to debate on the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in Lok Sabha, the minister agreed with members that airfares should be affordable but noted that airlines should also be viable.
The minister said several airline companies feel the strain and ATF comprises 40 per cent of operating cost.
He said with prices of crude down, it was time to get the states on board about bringing ATF under GST.
He said a special meeting of Goods and Services Tax council can be convened "to bring ATF under GST".
The minister urged states to delink ATF from petrol and diesel for bringing it under GST.
He said on issues of flight security there will be zero-tolerance. "Anyone who threatens physical security of aircraft deserves no consideration," he said.
The minister said that apart from domestic air travel taking a hit, IATA has estimated that there could be a loss of $63 billion to $ 113 billion on account of coronavirus.
He said India cannot be immune from the impact of the virus from an economic point of view.
The minister said domestic travel was down and airlines have given their suggestions including requesting oil companies to give 30-day credit.
The minister said while 700 aircraft were operational in the country, the benchmark is 2000 aircraft.
Referring to the privatisation of Air India as the "future of Maharaja", he said the airline was incurring a daily loss of Rs 26 crore and there was a huge debt.
He said the airline was in the "sentimental space" and added the government would not have liked to privatise it as a matter of choice.
Referring to the flight ban involving comedian Kunal Kamra being mentioned during the debate, the minister said there was a code of conduct to be followed. He said the incident may have gone unnoticed but the person put in on social media.
The Bill seeking to convert Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and two other existing bodies under the Civil Aviation Ministry into statutory bodies was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
It seeks to amend Aircraft Act, 1934.
The audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in 2012 and 2015 indicated a need to amend the Act to give proper recognition to the regulators, to enhance the maximum quantum of fines and to empower the departmental officers to impose financial penalties for violations of the legal provisions.
The Bill adds air navigation services to the list for which the Central government can make rules.
Apart from DGCA, two other bodies to get statutory status will be the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB). (ANI)