Foreign airlines will be able to operate ad hoc and non-scheduled cargo flights to all international airports in the country with government lifting its Covid-19 era restrictions. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has revised the rule for freighter operations following a review of its earlier direction which limited ad hoc and non scheduled cargo flights from foreign carriers to six cities. These included- Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Mumbai. 

“The operation of foreign ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights shall be allowed at all international airports in India without co-terminal rights by cargo-only aircraft for three years from the date of issue of the aeronautical information circular,” DGCA has said.

Operators are required to meet the operational and safety requirements while operating such ad hoc non-scheduled cargo flights, DGCA said. Scheduled cargo operations by foreign carriers shall be governed as per provisions of bilateral air service agreements with respective countries, it added.

Logistics boost

Apart from foreign carriers the relaxation will also benefit companies such as Adani Group and GMR which operate airports in non metro cities. The move will benefit local industries and save lower their logistics costs. 

At present, around 90 per cent of all international freight to/from India is carried from the six cities. 

“We have been trucking pharma and general cargo from Ahmedabad to Mumbai for onward air transport. There are challenges and costs involved in that. Growing business in a market like Ahmedabad has been difficult since we don’t have flights to the city. The rule relaxation will help us and we look forward to begin with non scheduled operations to Ahmedabad,” said Ethiopian Airlines’s cargo manager (India) Selamawit Hagos.

“The initiative is timely and we welcome it. It will help the Indian economy and provide extra capacity for exports. We welcome the decision,” said a senior executive of an international airline.