Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India

News: Recently, the Lok Sabha passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) Amendment Bill, 2021. It was first introduced in March 2021 and subsequently referred to a parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, which approved it without any changes. It seeks to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.

Details:

  • It proposes to amend the definition of major airport to include a group of airports.
  • The 2008 Act designates an airport as a major airport if it has an annual passenger traffic of at least 35 lakh.
  • The central government may also designate any airport as a major airport by a notification.
  • It will allow AERA to regulate tariff and other charges for aeronautical services for not just major airports with annual passenger traffic of more than 35 lakh, but also a group of airports.
  • The government will be able to club profitable and non-profitable airports as a combination/package to bidders to make it a viable combination for investment under PPP (Public-Private Partnership)
  • It will help in expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote areas and as a result, expediting the UDAN regional connectivity scheme. It will encourage development of smaller airports.
  • Lack of clarity in the bill on the criterion for deciding which airports will be clubbed together to qualify under ‘a group of airports’ definitions, whether it will be the passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million or some other factors too.