Tunia Cherian George

Mumbai, June 3

CONTINUING the process of opening up capacity on major international sectors, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is currently in talks with Canadian officials to liberalise the existing bilateral air services agreement between the two countries.

According to a Ministry official, a team of officials is currently in Canada for talks to expand the bilateral services agreement between the two nations. An agreement could be signed in a day or two, he said.

Under the current bilateral agreement, Air-India can operate nine flights a week to Canada.

Over the past year, India has negotiated liberal bilateral agreements with the US, the UK, Germany, China, France, and Belgium. The additional capacity had helped bring down fares by 20 per cent on various sectors, the official said.

According to the official, Air-India is keen on expanding services to Canada.

The national carrier resumed services to Canada last month with the launch of a thrice-weekly flight on the Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto sector.

Mr V. Thulasidas, Chairman and Managing Director, said that the national carrier was keen on adding destinations in Canada.

Apart from increasing the frequency on its recently launched service to Toronto, the airline is also looking to fly to Vancouver and even Montreal either through direct connections or in code-share with partner airlines such as Air Canada.

The airline is also looking to increase frequencies to 14-21 flights a week to all the three destinations, he said.

However, capacity expansion would be contingent on the availability of aircraft, he added.

The airline had registered loads of around 80 per cent on the recently launched Delhi-Toronto service, with the highest load factor being 99.6 per cent, Mr Thulasidas said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 4, 2005)
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