The Indian aviation sector is the seventh-largest market in the world. Its domestic air traffic accounts for 69 per cent of the total air traffic in South Asia.

While these numbers might make one proud, what goes behind running such operations is, to put mildly, mind-boggling. Hundreds of rules and regulations need to be followed and there are about 400 changes notified every year, which needs to complied with and those who don’t are penalised heavily. So, let us dive into how tough this maze is to untangle.

The Indian aviation industry is subject to a host of compliance obligations. Airports are expected to comply with regulatory requirements across six different compliance categories. These are labour, finance & taxation, commercial, industry specific, secretarial, environment and health and safety.

Regulatory requirements

Airports in India must comply with over 700 regulations across 56 Acts and rules to obtain relevant permissions and licences.

Airports must comply with industry-specific regulations, certifications, and licenses, including airport rescue and fire fighting services’ personnel training and drill requirements; noise management of aircraft operations at airports; climate change initiatives and local air quality monitoring in civil aviation, to name a few. All these regulatory requirements require the airport operators to go through periodic inspections and drills, obtain annual renewals and conduct emergency exercises, among others.

Airport operators must also obtain height clearance permission from AAI to construct any building near the airport. They must maintain sufficient distance between the runways, taxiways, and aprons; maintain runway drainage; maintain airside lighting, marking, and signs to be in accordance with licensing standards, among numerous other requirements.

Undertaking regular audits of the airside traffic operations is another responsibility of the airport operator, alongside training staff on the usage of various equipment, plans, and procedures. Contravention of these requirements puts the operator at the risk of imprisonment of up to 2 years. In addition, the operators are also penalised with a fine that can range from ₹10 lakh – ₹1 crore. With more than 4,000 changes notified every year on 2,000+ government and regulator websites, the compliance landscape is highly dynamic, adding to the complexity of the compliance processes. The compliance function needs access to transparent, accountable, and timely technology systems to help stay on the right side of the law.

For airports to effectively and efficiently manage their regulatory requirements, they must always stay on top of all their compliance obligations. Only by using technological solutions can compliance professionals visualise the residual risk and pay attention to all critical areas.

The writer is Co-Founder & CEO, TeamLease Regtech.

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