From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : AERA Act
In the recent monsoon session, Parliament passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Key features of the AERA Bill, 2021
- It seeks to amend the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008.
- The 2008 Act established the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA).
- AERA regulates tariffs and other charges (such as airport development fees) for aeronautical services rendered at major airports in India.
- 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.
- The Bill adds that the central government may group airports and notify the group as a major airport.
Why has the definition of a major airport been amended?
- The Amendment has changed the definition of a major airport to include “a group of airports” after the words “any other airport”.
- The government hopes the move will encourage the development of smaller airports and make bidding for airports with less passenger traffic attractive.
- It plans to club profitable airports with non-profitable ones and offer them as a package for development in public-private partnership mode to expand connectivity.
Was there a need to amend the AERA Act?
- The Airports Authority of India (AAI) awarded six airports — Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati — for operations, management and development in public-private partnership mode in February 2019.
- In 2020 too, the AAI has approved leasing of another six airports — Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, Amritsar, Raipur, Indore and Tiruchi.
- The Ministry of Civil Aviation plans to club each of these airports with nearby smaller airports for joint development.
- The move follows FM’s Budget Speech this year, in which she said the government planned to monetize airports in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.