Stiff challenges ahead for new Civil Aviation Minister

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 31, 2019 Published on May 31, 2019

Hardeep Singh Puri, who has been appointed as Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has his job cut out for him.

A career diplomat, Puri also holds additional charge of Housing, Urban Affairs and Commerce and Industry all of which should help him take a holistic view of the civil aviation sector.

KC Singh, a former diplomat and Puri’s batch mate, feels that the new Minister is taking over at a “challenging time” as one airline has shut down and a question mark hangs over the future of Air India but adds that Puri will bring basic common sense into how civil aviation operates globally.

He points out that the new Minister has wide experience in trade related matters as Puri has had a stint in the World Trade Organization and has handled trade issues which should help him in his new assignment.

Welcoming Puri’s appointment, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation said it expects structural reforms in the sector to be undertaken with speed and clarity. Among the issues that it feels need to be looked at include the privatisation of Air India, speedier resolution of the Jet Airways crisis, inclusion of Aviation Turbine Fuel in the GST regime, liberalisation of the bilateral regime and relaxing the tax regime for the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul sector.

At the same time, the need of the hour for India is to increase its international trade for which more air connectivity with the world is required. For planes to land and take off more airports will need to be built.

Besides, with the first Modi government focussing its attention on the development of airports the new Minister should not find it difficult to hit the ground running in his new job.

Published on May 31, 2019
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