FIA secretary general Anil Baijal stresses that the industry has to solve its problems constructively rather than through threats
You sounded serious with that strike threat. Are you still serious about it?
FIA never issued any “threat” and neither did it declare a “strike”. The FIA’s intention was to draw attention to the industry’s crying needs. These are indeed serious issues and the FIA is serious in addressing them with the government and other stakeholders through constructive dialogue.
For the common man, how would you explain the crisis? You cannot be at the airport to explain the mess.
The crisis for the common man is the same as the crisis of the member airlines of the FIA. Backbreaking taxes and severe airport related charges and fees only mean high fares for the common man. And in the absence of an enabling economic environment, many airlines in India may be forced out of business, which would have a severely adverse impact on the common citizens of this country and the possibilities of growth.
What are the costs you need to cut?
Fuel and airport related charges are at least half the cost base of all airlines. These are certainly the big ticket items.
Can you compare Indian taxes on jet fuel and airport charges with those abroad?
In India, the percentage of average sales tax alone on ATF is in the late 20s – creeping up sometimes to the early 30s. In most mature markets, there is either no such tax or a concession to incentivise air travel.
Many see the strike notice as a pressure tactic.
It is a cry for help!
Others in the aviation sector feel the airlines are also putting – through this strike notice – pressure on their creditors such as oil companies and airport operators.
The airline industry needs help, support and sympathy from all quarters.
Jet Airways, Kingfisher, SpiceJet and IndiGo are yet to pay Rs 212 crore to the Airports Authority of India. Kingfisher, Jet and SpiceJet also owe Rs 1,726 crore to oil marketing companies. How will you manage it?
As a matter of policy, the FIA does not comment on the business of individual airlines. The FIA is a platform to discuss and address industry-wide issues.
Do you think it is right for the government to intervene in an issue of the private sector?
I have faith that the government, as always, will understand and sympathise with the issues facing the industry and will take appropriate measures to ensure growth and progress of India.