The Ministry of Commerce has red-flagged the sharp rise in imports of unladen aeroplanes of over 15,000 kg, turbo jets and helicopters of unladen weight with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Accordingly the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has asked the DGCA to take steps to contain imports and up the exports, so as to “bring down the trade deficit”.

The concerns, part of the Commerce Ministry’s import alert list, have been raised only for items whose values are over $200 million.

The MoCA has also asked industry and trade bodies like FICCI, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce) to step in while seeking consultation for a “comprehensive industry appropriate strategy”. A copy of the letter, dated Tuesday, has also been marked to the National Aerospace Laboratories in Bengaluru.

“lt is requested to identify measures that can be taken to boost exports and contain surge of non-essential imports so as to bring down the trade deficit. Industries/associations may be consulted for a comprehensive industry appropriate strategy. A recommended measures from your deparment/organisation in this regard may please be furnished to this Ministry (MoCA) immediately,” the letter, accessed by businessline, stated.

Rising imports

The Ministry mentioned that for April-September 2022 (H1 FY23), there has been an over 56 per cent rise in import of aeroplanes and ‘other powered aircraft’ of an unladen (not loaded) weight of greater than 15,000 kg. Imports rose to $2,080 million as against $1,329 million in H1 FY22.

In 2020, fixed wing aircraft of an unladen weight of greater than 15,000 kg was among the top 20 most traded products globally, with a total trade of $80.8 billion, sources said. For the period under review, turbo jets of thrust greater than 25 kN saw a 34 per cent rise in import, to $1,243 million; as against $927.48 million in the year-ago-period. Helicopters of an unladen weight of higher than 2,000 kg saw a 42 per cent jump in to $235.74 million versus $166 million.