The Centre on Monday informed Parliament that the domestic aviation sector does not have a shortage of pilots, but the country has a shortage of type-rated commanders or pilot-in-command on certain types of aircraft. The government said the shortage of PIC is being managed by utilising foreign pilots by issuing foreign aircrew temporary authorisation (FATA). 

FATA is not issued to foreign license holder above the age of 65 years and is further restricted to any lower age limit prescribed by the licence issuing contracting state, stated Gen VK Singh (Retd), the minister of state in the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA).

At present, there are 82 FATA in the country, and 34 flying training organisations approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which operates on 52 bases. The country also has seven approved training organisations (ATO).

In 2020, Hardeep Singh Puri, the then minister of civil aviation said that the country has a requirement of an estimated 9,488 pilots in the next five years. In February this year, Singh informed Parliament that despite an annual requirement of 1,000 pilots, the domestic supply of pilots currently stands at 200 to 300 pilots. 

In July, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said, "There is no shortage of pilots in India. There is, however, a marginal shortage of commanders on certain types of aircraft and the same is being managed by utilizing foreign pilots by issuing Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorization (FATA). There were 82 FATA-holders in India as on 30th June 2022, as compared to over 9,000 pilots employed with airlines in India.”

Singh said to meet the challenges presented by unprecedented growth in air traffic and to boost growth in the domestic aviation sector, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and other private airport operators are developing new and existing airports, with a projected capital expenditure of ₹98,000 crore over the next five years. 

“Government of India (GoI) has accorded 'In-Principle' approval for setting up of 06 Greenfield Airports namely, Dholera (at a sanction of ₹1305 crore) and Hirasar (₹1405 crore) in Gujarat, Dagadarthi (₹293 crore), Bhogapuram (₹2500 crore) and Oravakal (Kurnool) (₹187 crore) in Andhra Pradesh and Donyi Polo (₹646 crore), Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh during the last 7 years. Out of these, Oravakal and Donyi Polo airports have been operationalised,” Singh said. 

In the last five years, AAI received ₹710 crore as concessionary fees through its six leased-out airports namely Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram, said the ministry. These airports were leased out to Adani Enterprises Limited under the public-private partnership for better operations and management. Of this, Lucknow airport has received the highest concessionary fee of ₹602.51 crore, followed by Guwahati airport which received a concessionary fee worth ₹507.56 crore. Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Mangaluru airports received concessionary fees worth ₹431.97 crore, ₹314.03 crore, ₹271.11 crore and ₹221.88 crore, respectively.  

Scindia visited the Delhi airport and met the officials on Monday amid sudden surge in complaints of chaos and congestion at terminal 3. He said the authorities have taken a summary of bottlenecks and the Central Industrial Security Force has been directed to provide enough staff at the airport. 

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