Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will be on the committee.
In a first, the government has set up an inter-ministerial panel with three Cabinet ministers to decide if Tata-backed Vistara should be given an international flying permit, Business Standard reported.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has the final authority to grant this permission to airlines, according to Aircraft Rules, 1937. In this case, the Centre formed an expert panel due to fears of 'witch-hunts' by investigating agencies, government officials told the publication on condition of anonymity.
"There is a growing risk aversion among bureaucrats and hence, the need of delegating the decision to a joint committee to escape finger-pointing by anyone later," a source said.
AirAsia was in trouble with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the alleged lobbying for international flight permits. The agency is also looking into the government's decision to amend the 5/20 rule, as part of the same investigation.
According to the 5/20 rule, only the airlines which have been functional for over 5 years and own more than 20 aircraft can fly international routes. The Centre's amendment dropped the 5-year rule. Vistara, which started operations in 2015, directly benefits from this, as it already has a fleet of 22 aircraft.
In light of the probe, sources told the paper that Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad are on a committee that was formed to decide if Vistara should be given the permit.
Rajiv Nayan Choubey, Civil Aviation Secretary, confirmed to the paper that such a panel was formed and that the government was just trying to ensure that all laws are being followed with consultation from other ministries.
Vistara had applied for the permit in June, as it planned to start operations to Bangkok, Phuket, Colombo and Male for the winter schedule of 2018.The airline has been recording losses in the past three years and the delay in the international flying permit is affecting its business plan further. Competition from low-cost airlines, like IndiGo and GoAir, has also impacted the airline.
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