Aviation Ministry asks domestic carriers to file plans of overseas flights

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is against allowing international airlines operate more flights into India till domestic carriers catch up.

With this in mind, it has asked all domestic airlines to submit, within 15 days, their plans for operating international flights till March 2014.

“If foreign airlines keep operating more and more flights into India then what chance do Indian carriers have to grow and become big players in the international arena?” a senior Government official asked.

At the moment, Air India, Jet, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Kingfisher are permitted to operate international flights from India. Currently, Air India’s international schedule is truncated due to the effects of the 58-day pilot strike, while Kingfisher has withdrawn from international routes because of its financial woes.

The data have been sought to assess the capabilities of Indian carriers to operate international flights, he added. At present, foreign airlines operate 1,356 flights a week to India, while Indian carriers offer less than 1,000 international services.

Gulf flights

The new decision could be bad news for airlines from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman that are keen to expand India operations. Official sources said while what has been agreed under the various international agreements cannot be taken away, steps can be taken to ensure that Indian carriers are not at a loss vis-à-vis international carriers.

Officials point out that some decisions have not only affected the Indian carriers but also dashed the chances of Indian airports becoming global hubs.

This is because international airlines carry passengers from the interiors of the country to their home destinations and then onwards to almost any part of the globe. So, a passenger from Thiruvananthapuram can travel to Dubai and then to any part of the globe that Emirates connects.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 10, 2012)
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