Issues ranging from behaviour of airline staff and addressing passenger complaints to service of on-board food and ticket cancellation charges were raised by the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture with the Indian airlines, according to the panel’s report tabled in the Parliament on Thursday. The committee, chaired by Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, also pulled up the government for adopting “the open sky policy without laying down the necessary guidelines, rules and regulations to control the activities of the airlines”.
Apart from reprimanding the airlines and asking them to train their staff to reduce cases of misbehaviour with staff, the Parliamentary Committee has also pointed out the recent incidents showed “CISF in poor light and prove that the training programmes are insufficient and more needs to be done”. It suggested to the Centre that it should re-evaluate the soft skills training given to CISF and security personnel to make them more passenger friendly. It also observed that the government needed to be “proactive to face the emerging challenges of the growth of civil aviation sector”. Similarly, it noted that there was need for adequate technology-driven infrastructure, considering airport infrastructure had a major role in extending facilities and amenities to the passengers.
“Keeping in view the pace at which Indian aviation is growing, the Committee recommends that AAI and other Airport Operators should bolster their efforts to build new infrastructure and to expand existing airports to enhance the facilities available at airports. Decongesting the airports, decongesting the runway and the airspace should be the top priority of the Government. Airport facilities need to be upgraded on an urgent basis,” the Standing Committee said.
It also criticised the practice of airlines following non-uniform block times, under which different airlines would have different flying times for the same sector. Some airlines, it noted, kept a longer flying time but arrived early to bolster their on-time performance. “The Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation informed the Committee that the ‘block time’ is the time usually the aircraft take to fly a particular sector but many airlines are not following it. But the aircrafts are permitted to use the “non-uniform block time” i.e. long duration flying time (more time in air) to cover a particular sector due to lack of slots at the airports. They may hover around the destination stations for some time,” the report said. It recommended all the airlines to follow the practice of uniform block times.