In a move that could save money for both airlines and their passengers, the Indian Air Force has released 10 percent of its reserved air space for civil carriers.
This will shorten flying time on a few routes, reducing the fuel burn of an aircraft, helping airlines save money, and in turn, pass on some of the benefits to customers. Sources said the cost of operating a flight may go down by up to Rs 40,000 on more than one a dozen domestic routes, including Lucknow-Jaipur and Mumbai Srinagar.
At present, passenger airlines use only about 60 percent of India’s airspace. The rest is taken up for strategic use. On some of the sectors, airlines are forced to take a longer route to avoid key defence airspace.
Sources said 13 routes in total will benefit. As per the initial estimates of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, an airline operating on the Mumbai-Srinagar route will save Rs 40,000 a flight. Similarly, on the Durgapur-Chennai, a carrier could save about Rs 36,000 a flight, and about Rs 34,000 on Lucknow-Jaipur route. The saving on the Delhi-Srinagar route could be about Rs 8,000 per flight.
Flying time, depending on the route will reduce by up to 20 minutes. The step was part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this year.