Published: 27th January 2018
Rising airfare? Plan your trip early, says Union Minister Jayant Sinha
The Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Jayant Sinha, talks about the rising airfares and gender sensitisation in the sector
‘The minister has to rush, he is really busy,’ is what we were told. So, I knew that my questions for him had to be brief. After the final session on Day 1 at the ThinkEdu Conclave, where he debated on the question, 'Does a better education system lead to a cleaner political system?' along with a few other political leaders, Jayant Sinha, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, was rushing to 'grab a quick dinner’. Then he had to rush to the car to catch his flight. As he walked down the long corridor at ITC Grand Chola, I seized my window of opportunity and walked alongside him. Though the conversation was short, he did have a lot to say. Excerpts:
You recently said that India has the maximum number of women pilots in the world. That is quite impressive. Where are most of them trained?
Yes. We have the maximum number of women as pilots compared to the total number of pilots. There is a mix of programmes that they go through during their training. Some of them get their licenses through Indian units of flying clubs, while others go overseas to get their commercial pilot licenses.
What are the steps undertaken by the ministry to improve the presence of women in this field?
We're creating opportunities for women everywhere. We've recently started the Indian women aviators programme. Apart from this, there are various programmes and scholarships that they can avail.
Are there plans of creating more solar-powered airports in India?
Right now Kochi is the only airport that is 100% solar powered in the entire country. That is a big achievement. Many other airports too have solar instruments. We're definitely planning to solar power them in the future.
Rising fuel prices is a huge issue in the case of air travel too. Many expats and expat students find it harder to travel via air especially during peak seasons. What is the ministry's solution for this?
Fuel accounts for 30 to 40 per cent of the aircraft's total cost. When fuel prices go up, it definitely has a huge impact on ticket prices. But the competition and dynamics usually balance the cost. But even in peak season, there is significant capacity for travel. Nevertheless, my recommendation to all the travellers out there is to book tickets early.