India to seek 'parity or near parity' for its carriers flying abroad: Puri

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 08, 2020

Air bubble with Germany to be finalised soon

The government is clear that it “wants parity or near parity” in the number of flights that foreign carriers are allowed to operate to India and the number of flights that Indian carriers are allowed to operate to foreign countries during the currently regulated flying arrangements, Hardeep Puri, Minister for Civil Aviation said on Thursday.

“I am not saying parity but it should not look completely uneven. There is opportunity in India for all foreign economic entities. But equally, where commercial advantage is concerned we also expect our carriers to get these facilities when they go there,” the Minister said.

Without naming any country, but in an obvious reference to Germany, Puri said there were restrictions for Indians coming into a country and there were not so many people from that country (who want to come here).

“If the arrangement is being carried out only for sixth freedom rights then obviously we will want parity because we have flights between India and the US and India and Canada,” the Minister said. The sixth Freedom of Air allows the airlines of one country to fly to another country and then carry passengers from that country to a third country.

This is said to have been one of the sticking points in fully operationalising the air bubble agreement between India and Germany, which saw Lufthansa pull out of India recently. The German carrier said it will not operate any flights to and from India till October 20.

Under the bubble agreements, airlines provide a schedule to their counterparts some days in advance. Lufthansa had authorisation to fly to India till September 30.

“But in the period prior to that it was operating 21 flights a week. We were operating only three,” Puri said.

Pradeep Kharola, Secretary, Civil Aviation, added that the next meeting with Lufthansa will take place in a day or two and the air bubble agreement will be finalised with Germany.

To prove his point about parity, the Minister gave the example of the India-US market, which is worth about $7 billion with Indian carriers having a 17 per cent share of the market.

“We have 30 flights to the US and its carriers operate about 23 so there is some parity,” Puri said.

“The issue is not about allowing foreign carriers or not. The time has come for the message to go out loud and clear that this will not be done at the expense of the Indian carriers,” he added.

Published on October 08, 2020

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