The Union Civil Aviation Minster Ajit Singh has said that the Indian government is in the process of negotiating for more flying rights with the Abu Dhabi government as they have been fully utilised by both sides. At the request of Jet Airways for a code partnership as country's second-largest private carrier is in crucial negotiations with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways for a possible equity deal.
Addressing the media at the 11th Routes Asia Summit, Singh said that Jet's deal with Etihad 'seems to be on track' as Jet sold and later leased back its Heathrow London slots to Etihad (for $70 million) in February but refused to say when and how soon this transaction would fructify. Ajit Singh also said that the report on airline safety by the UN body ICAO that reportedly clubbed India with some of the African countries makes no such conclusions.
He also added that ICAO has communicated everything verbally and the report is likely to come out by March 20.
Singh said that ICAO raised three main issues regarding safety in the Indian skies relating to approval and modification of aircraft. It said more documentation needs to be done for both scheduled and non-scheduled operators and about the shortage of staff in the air traffic control category.
Singh said that the third issue is dropped now as the government will seek appointment of this highly skilled workforce outside of UPSC selection and that for this a levy of 5 per passenger will be charged so as to finance the salaries of this highly paid section of officers.