The Senate Sub-committee on Aviation held a detailed deliberation on the amendments proposed to the Civil Aviation Rules, 1994 and the National Aviation Policy, 2019, and recommended formulating aviation policies for Pakistan after a thorough insight into the policies adopted worldwide.
The meeting convened by Senator Saleem Mandviwalla at the Parliament Lodges first discussed the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Aviation to the National Aviation Policy, 2019. The convenor directed the Ministry to provide a tabulated comparison between the existing and the proposed policies and reasons for the required amendments.
The committee was informed that the amendments were pertaining to the existing Air Traffic Rights and Air Service Agreements to restrain the foreign barriers from running indirect flights.
Present in the meeting, the stakeholders expressed their concerns over the proposed amendment. They argued that it would cause loss to the Regular Public Transport (RPT) operators. On the other hand, the Ministry was of the view that 53% of the market was being neglected on account of indirect flights due to the lack of clearance from the respective countries. The Ministry, however, expressed a hope that the European Commission would announce the clearance in its next meeting.
Member National Assembly Shahid Khaqan Abbasi regretted that the National Aviation Policy did not support RPT. “If there are no RPT operators, there is no Civil Aviation,” he stated. “Pakistan Civil Aviation finds ways to put you on the ground rather than to make flying easier,” he remarked. He stated, “Every office requires an RPT, a successful RPT is a successful aviation.”
The committee unanimously decided to include a separate chapter of the RPT operators which the committee believed were the most critical inclusion to the National Aviation Policy.
The RPT representatives alleged that the State Bank of Pakistan created hurdles in conducting business with regard to the delays in the approvals for the release of payment in the foreign currency. “No corporate entity can own a dollar account,” they lamented.
The committee recommended referring the matter to the Finance Committee to ensure payments to the Civil Aviation.
The Ministry said the foreign equity was allowed to hold a share of 49% to keep the business in the hands of local investors.
The stakeholders also emphasized including points pertaining to grounded aircraft. The convener directed to draft proposals on the ground aircraft in order to help obtain parts in times of crisis.
The committee recommended that draft policies should also be shared and approved by the Ministries concerned to ensure implementation. It was also recommended that the RPT facilitation proposal prepared by the RPT operators should also be incorporated into the aviation policies.
The stakeholders also expressed dismay over the delayed process in obtaining the international licensing even after the completion of the one-year required period and thorough monitoring of Civil Aviation. The Ministry informed the committee that the one-year period was the stipulated time to obtain an international license while any further delay was on the part of the country the airlines tended to travel.
The committee also noted that the Aviation Policy did not give any plan for general aviation. “To land a private plane in Pakistan is an impossible task,” stated Saleem Mandviwalla.
The committee recommended that every province should have a General Aviation Airport to run the general aircraft in a smooth manner. It was decided that the drone policies, in view of the emergence of technology and the use of drones in every sector especially for delivery operations, should be well-drafted under the Civil Aviation Authority. The National Aviation should also introduce policies to promote engineering, the panel underlined. It also proposed amendments to the license requirement by extending it on the basis of four years degree program rather than diploma after matric or intermediate.
The meeting was attended by Senator Afnan Ullah Khan, Senator Aon Abbas, and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi alongside representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority and its attached departments.