The civil aviation sector is under stress due to coronavirus as airlines were experiencing 30% fewer passengers since the outbreak of the disease, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said here on Tuesday.
Puri was responding to a debate in the Lok Sabha which passed the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill that seeks to grant statutory status to the Directorate General of Civil Aviations, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
The Minister said according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates the global airlines are expected to face losses between 63 billion and 113 billion dollars.
Puri also strongly backed the action against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra by several airlines for heckling a journalist onboard an IndiGo flight insisting that he was for zero tolerance towards anyone posing a threat to an aircraft.
The Bill seeks to fulfill the International Civil Aviation Organisation requirement that mandate proper recognition to aviation regulators.
The Bill provides for the appointment of designated officers, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to adjudicate penalties under the legislation.
Under the Act, the penalty for various offences is imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh, or both.
The Bill raises the maximum limit on fines for all these offences from Rs 10 lakh to Rs one crore. Aircraft belonging to the naval, military, or Air Forces of the Union are exempt from the provisions of the Act.
These offences include carrying arms, explosives, or other dangerous goods aboard aircraft; contravening any rules notified under the Act, and constructing buildings or structures within the specified radius around an aerodrome reference point.