The government plans to formulate a separate set of policies for regional airlines, Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said on Monday.
He said, "The government will formulate new norms for operators who want to secure permission to run regional airlines," adding that existing scheduled carriers could not pitch for regional-airline status.
"A policy in this regard is yet to be finalised. The licences given for regional carriers will be distinct from those given to national carriers," said Patel, on the sidelines of an aviation seminar organised by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.
He added that the government was yet to work out the modalities on regional carriers, on whether they would be allowed to operate from "one metro and surrounding regional cities" or whether the operating permits would be "state-wise".
The minister said a conclave of chief ministers, along with the prime minister, the finance minister and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, would be convened soon, and focus on clearing infrastructural constraints or other procedural delays, if any, in setting up regional airlines.
The discussions in the conclave would include setting up private merchant airports and operationalising airstrips in various states.
Commenting on new licences, Patel said the government would strictly examine business plans, financial strength and overall capability of the prospective airlines before giving the green signal.
He said bids for the second airport in Mumbai would be completed by June 2008. The airport at Navi Mumbai, expected to decongest the Chatrapati Shivaji Airport at Santa Cruz, is to be built by public and private investors at an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.