Aviation Division summary termed misleading

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The cabinet secretary has pointed out that a summary moved by the Aviation Division for waiving non-conformance charges of Air Sial airline was misleading.

During discussions held in the cabinet last week, the cabinet secretary pointed out that the subject of the summary was misleading as it did not mention the waiver of non-conformance charges, moreover, the grant of such concessions to an airline would set a precedent for other airlines as well.

However, the Aviation Division was of the view that the concession was being extended in the wake of prevailing circumstances in the industry, which was badly affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The federal cabinet had approved the National Aviation Policy (NAP) 2019 (repealing NAP 2015). Para 4.3 of NAP 2019 stipulates that if an operator fails to obtain the air operator’s certificate (AOC) within a maximum of two years’ timeframe from the date of issuance of respective licence, then 10% of the total security deposit will be levied as non-conformance charge.

Subsequently, a fresh licence would have to be acquired while the remaining security deposit shall be refunded.

In spite of one-time renewal and relaxation in policy, Air Sial again failed to acquire AOC within the extended period. To ensure ease of doing business and in the wake of efforts made by Air Sial, the federal cabinet in its meeting held in January 2020 again “granted approval for relaxation in policy by not forfeiting the security deposit of Air Sial”.

Based on the cabinet’s approval, the minister for aviation approved the renewal of RPT licence of the airline for a further period of two years effective September 5, 2019 to September 4, 2021 with the condition to acquire AOC up to June 30, 2020.

It was mentioned that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the aviation sector was badly affected and as a result aircraft could not be delivered on time and Air Sial could not acquire AOC up to June 30, 2020.

The airline has now requested to extend AOC period up to the already approved validity of RPT licence ie September 4, 2021. The airline has also given an undertaking that it will complete all formalities for acquiring AOC by December 31, 2020 but no later than March 31, 2021.

Keeping in view the efforts made by Air Sial in terms of acquiring aircraft, hiring manpower, establishment of offices, etc, the approval of the cabinet was solicited to extend the AOC requirement till March 31, 2021.

It was further proposed that 10% of the security deposit, which was to be levied as the non-conformance charge on Air Sial under Article 4.3 of NAP 2019, may also be waived.

The cabinet was requested to approve the proposals. The cabinet considered the summary titled “Renewal of RPT licence of Air Sial (Pvt) Ltd” submitted by the Aviation Division, and approved the proposal.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2020.

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Source: tribune.com.pk