Asked to suddenly take officiating charge as the country’s director general of civil aviation (DGCA), Prashant Narain Sukul, joint secretary in the civil aviation ministry, talks to Disha Kanwar on aspects of his new charge. Edited excerpts:
What are your priorities regarding safety in the aviation sector?
I believe safety has to be viewed from an overall perspective. Be it the pilot, airline or airport, every aspect has to work in tandem towards the best possible customer safety standards.
Don’t you think pilots not being paid salary on time is a matter of concern, as demotivated staff flying in the skies endanger the safety of passengers?
Definitely, it is a matter of concern. But there is no end to this argument. If pilots are not being paid on time, so are the others like ground staff, etc. But, eventually, they were being paid.
Some of the airlines are delaying their C-checks (maintenance checks) and some are cannibalising aircraft. What will you do to address these?
It is very obvious that they are delaying C-checks because of financial constraints. The three airlines that I have been associated with are conducting it. We will ensure others also follow. It has also got to do with costs of MROs (maintenance and repair organisations). Cannibalisation of the aircraft is not specific to Kingfisher. That is also there because they have returned the aircraft. They will have to send the aircraft back in the same condition, as part of the lease agreement.
Which airline might be the next Kingfisher in the making?
Except for one or two, all our airlines are not in sound financial condition. The general condition of the aviation sector worldwide is not good, so let us not single out our airlines.
How will DGCA ensure that airlines keep fares in the specified price band?
It is not the DGCA’s job to regulate the fares. We just take the bandwidth of what the fares are for these reasons and we monitor these. The old system of filing of fares has stopped. Fares are now dynamic and decentralised. There will be implications with Competition Commission of India and all that if we get involved in the pricing.