Economy

Air France allowed to operate flights to India

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 16, 2020 Published on July 16, 2020

Air India disinvestment on track, says Aviation Minister

India has permitted Air France to operate 28 flights between France and Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai between July 18 and August 1, said Hardeep Puri, Minister of State for Civil Aviation, on Thursday.

The resumption of Air France’s flights is seen as the beginning of air bubbles’ or safe corridors between India and another country.

“We are at a very advanced stage of negotiations with at least three countries. In the case of one — Air France — we have signed formally,” the Minister said adding that an agreement has also been reached between US and India for United Airlines to operate 18 flights between July 17 and July 31.

An ‘air bubble’ is just short of normal civil aviation operations, said the Minister. “We have a request from the British and the Germans. I think Lufthansa is almost done,” he added.

Air India privatisation

The Minister also said that the divestment of Air India is still on the cards.

“Privatisation is not only necessary but leaves us with no option for the simple reason that airlines the world over were under strain in the pre-Covid time and the pandemic has introduced a new element. We have to face reality. Even if Air India wants to be dependent on the government, the government may not be in a position in view of the other demands being made on it in the current situation, like providing measures for relief to vulnerable sections. We do not have a choice, we have to privatise Air India,” the Minister said without getting into details on entities interested in acquiring the state-owned airline.

 

The Minister also hinted at an extension beyond August 23 of the fare band on domestic flights. “The way (passenger) demand is going now at still less than 33 per cent you may need a short extension. This is my view,” he added.

When domestic flights restarted on May 25 the government had imposed a fare band within which domestic airlines could price their tickets.

Besides, the government also made it mandatory for airlines to sell at least 40 per cent of seats at a fare less than the mid-way point of the band. This comes to approximately ₹6,700 or below for a one-way Delhi-Mumbai flight ticket.

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Published on July 16, 2020
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