New Delhi: The Indian aviation industry faced a paradoxical situation in 2011 suffering huge losses in the face of a burgeoning domestic air traffic, as it battled high fuel costs and fierce competition while looking up to the government for help.
As the country celebrated 100 years of aviation in India, the Civil Aviation Ministry got a full-time minister Ajit Singh, replacing Vayalar Ravi who held the portfolio as an additional charge, only in the year-end.
There were three major helicopter crashes during the year, all in the northeast including one that claimed the life of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu. The year also witnessed a major scam involving pilots who got licenses by submitting fake or forged documents. The scam, which raised serious questions about aviation safety, led to the arrest of 23 people, including pilots, staffers of DGCA and middlemen.
Air India operations were hit by a nine-day strike by its pilots in April-May over salary and allowance payments which disrupted its flight schedules.
Flights of Air India and Kingfisher were also disrupted for a few days during the year as oil PSUs stopped supplies demanding daily cash payments for lifting of jet fuel.
To have a strong aviation regulator, the government planned to bring a legislation to set up a Civil Aviation Authority with financial and administrative autonomy in line with such bodies in several countries, like the US and the UK.
A tough financial situation saw the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The government got into the act to find ways to aid the beleaguered industry, with major airlines suffering enormous accumulated losses of nearly Rs 15,000 crore in 2010-11, up from Rs 7,038 crore in 2009-10.