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.
- It proposes to amend the definition of the 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 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) mode.
- 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.
Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India
- Lack of clarity in the bill on the criterion for deciding which airports
will be clubbed together to qualify under �a group of airports' definition,
whether it will be the passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million or some
other factors too.
- Initially, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) was running and
managing the airports. After some time, a change was made in the civil
aviation policy as some private players were also given airports to run. The
reason behind this was to provide consumers with great services.
- Typically, airports run the risk of becoming a monopoly because cities
usually have one civilian airport which controls all aeronautical services
in that area.
- To ensure that private airport operators do not misuse their monopoly,
the need for an independent tariff regulator in the airport sector was felt.
- The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008 (AERA Act) was
passed which set up the AERA as a statutory body.
- It was set up, keeping in mind that the country needs to have an
independent regulator who has transparent rules and can take care of the
interests of the service providers as well as that of the consumers.
- The AERA regulates tariffs and other charges (development fee and
passenger service fee) for aeronautical services (air traffic management,
landing, and parking of aircraft, ground handling services) at major