The Airport Marketing Conference on Air Services Development held in New Delhi on 22 January threw up a strong possibility that the Modi government could scrap the 5/20 rule applicable to Indian air carriers. The civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju said it had no "scientific meaning" .

The 5/20 rule stipulates that Indian air carriers should have at least five years of flying experience and a fleet of 20 aircraft to become eligible to fly abroad.

The rule was brought in October 2004 by the then Congress-led UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh.

"This (5/20 rule) is obviously something that is pulling Indians down...Does it have any scientific meaning?" Raju told reporters on the sidelines of the conference, reported The Hindu.

In the draft national civil aviation policy (NCAP) issued in October last year, the government had invited suggestions on various aspects, including the contentious 5/20 rule, while introducing the concept of domestic flying credits (DFC) as a possible replacement to the 5/20 rule.

"MoCA is proposing to introduce the concept of Domestic Flying Credits (DFC)... Domestic airlines will need to accumulate 300 DFC before commencing flights to SAARC countries and countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5000 km radius from New Delhi," the draft paper said.

"They will need to accumulate 600 DFC before starting flights to the remaining parts of the world," it further suggested.

The DFC earned by an airline will be equal to the Available Seat Kilometer (ASK) deployed by the airline on domestic routes divided by 1 crore.

The draft NCAP said that in order to ensure level playing field, all domestic airlines will be required to earn at least 300 DFC per annum after commencing international operations to retain their international flying rights. 

For a new airline, this (DFC) requirement shall commence from the financial year immediately following the year in which it accumulates its first 300 DFCs.

The 5/20 rule has evoked strong response from those who oppose it and those in support of the stipulation.

While private airlines that are allowed to fly abroad have opposed the move to do away with the 5/20 rule, Vistara and AirAsia India want the rule to be relaxed.

The Federation of India Airlines (FIA), which represents Jet Airways, IndiGo, Go Air and SpiceJet, met civil aviation ministry officials to convey its opposition to scrapping or relaxing the 5/20 rule, The Hindu report said.