Soon the flying time from Delhi to Chennai, Hyderabad Bangalore, and from Chennai to Kolkata and Mumbai will become shorter by at least a few minutes.

This follows the Cabinet Committee on Security clearing a proposal for Flexible Use of Airspace (FUA) by both civil and military users. In India, like in several countries, the air space is controlled by both civil and military users. FUA allows both to use the same airspace on a sharing basis according to their needs on a real time basis.

The CCS decided that a National High Level Airspace Policy Body chaired by Secretary, Civil Aviation and having representation from Ministry of Defence, Indian Air force, Indian Navy, Indian Space Research Organisation, Airports Authority of India and Directorate General of Civil Aviation be set up to look into the needs of the various stake holders.

Domestic airline officials say that using direct flights routes between seven cities including Delhi-Chennai, Delhi-Hyderabad, Delhi-Bangalore and Chennai-Kolkata will result in an annual saving of over Rs 10 crore and reduction of carbon dioxide emission by over 6.4 million kg a year.

Pilots of several airlines, however, claim that the move is unlikely to result in any major benefits till some other changes are also carried out at the various airports.

“You can reach Mumbai before time but then you are made to remain in the air as the airport has technical issues which have not been sorted out. It is not uncommon for aircraft approaching Mumbai to be told be reduce its speeds when it is about 100 miles from the city,” said a pilots flying with a private airline.

In Delhi, which along with Mumbai handles about 40 per cent of domestic traffic, the situation is not as bad as it has three operational runways, pilots say. “The fact that Kingfisher airline which had a large chunk of market share and the drop in number of domestic passengers is also ensuring that flights into Delhi are not affected,” said another pilot.

It was in October 2007, that the Government launched joint airspace management programme involving the armed forces and Airports Authority of India in the Chennai Flight Information Region.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 8, 2013)
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