Jayant Sinha has taken over as civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju's deputy at a time when the Indian civil aviation business is witnessing exciting times.
From liberal foreign direct investment (FDI) norms to a slew of passenger-friendly measures to make air travel affordable and comfortable, the world's fastest-growing civil aviation market is making news these days.
Last month, the government approved the new civil aviation policy that aims to make India the world's third-largest civil aviation market by 2022 from the current 9th.
Jayant Sinha officially took charge as minister of state for civil aviation on Wednesday as part of the Cabinet reshuffle undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sinha was earlier Arun Jaitley's deputy in the finance ministry.
He had a formal meeting with the civil aviation ministry officials on Saturday.
Conducted review meetings to understand the opportunities and challenges in India's aviation sector. pic.twitter.com/LCjkeAGvbG
— Jayant Sinha (@jayantsinha) July 9, 2016
In another tweet, he said he was "excited to take off at civil aviation ministry under Gajapathy Raju's guidance."
The domestic civil aviation space comprising IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet, Air India, AirAsia India, GoAir, Vistara and a few other smaller players, saw business growing 21.5 percent to 85 million passengers flying in 2015-16. This is projected to cross 100 million in the current fiscal.
"Outlook for the sector remains strong with FY17 domestic passenger volumes expected to cross the 100mn mark (18-20% growth) and comfortably absorb expected incremental capacity," financial services research firm Edelweiss Securities had said in a note in April this year.
The industry is up in arms with the ministry's regulator — the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) — over the new excess baggage norms notified last month.
On July 1, the DGCA had notified that passengers can carry up to 5 kg extra baggage in addition to the 15 kg free baggage allowance per passenger, by paying Rs. 100 per kg. Airlines were charging Rs. 250 to 300 per excess kg.
Airlines have termed the new rules as "illegal".
Such determination by the DGCA in the Air Transport Circular No. 02 of 2016 is illegal and beyond the statutory jurisdiction of the regulator...The Aircraft Rules 1937 further do not empower the DGCA to determine tariff while permitting issuance of directions," according to a letter sent by Ujjwal Dey, associate director, Federation of India Airlines (FIA) this month.
IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir are members of the FIA.