India set to sign liberal aviation pact with EU
NEW DELHI: Indian airlines are set to get an improved access to European destinations. A liberal aviation pact between India and the European Union (EU) is on the cards, which will enable this as well as give EU carriers better access to India. In a way, the pact will work like an ‘open skies’ agreement between India and the EU.
According to civil aviation ministry sources, Indian carriers will get to operate a virtually unrestricted number of flights to European destinations like London, Paris and Frankfurt.
They can also enter into code-share pacts with European carriers without seeking government approval. On a reciprocal basis, European carriers will also get similar market access to India and be able to ink pacts with Indian counterparts without going through elaborate government clearances.
The proposed horizontal aviation agreement between the two sides provides far more flexibility than the air service arrangements being pursued by India with individual EU members. The liberal aviation pact between two of the world’s largest trading partners is expected to be signed in September when prime minister Manmohan Singh visits France to participate in the India-EU summit.
“Germany and the UK have already agreed to the terms of the proposed agreement. We are expected to negotiate with other member states as well shortly. The agreement is expected to be signed during the PM’s visit to France in September this year,” a civil aviation ministry official said.
The EU has similar agreements with China and the US. Currently, 26 bilateral air services agreements exist between EU members and India. The horizontal agreement between India and the 26-member EU would also allow people from either side to book an integrated ticket for travelling by different modes of transport.
It will also ensure technical co-operation between the two sides in areas like aviation safety, security and traffic management.
The proposed pact between the sides would remove nationality restrictions (from the EU side) in the bilateral air services agreements between EU members and India. This will allow any designated airline from the member states and India to operate flights to each other’s territory where a bilateral agreement with India exists and traffic rights are available.
The agreement will also pave the way for routing flexibility to European carriers, which means designated carriers of different countries may use each other’s traffic rights. For example, if a designated French carrier exhausts all its bilateral traffic rights with India, it can still operate additional services using traffic rights of the Netherlands.
But this comes with a rider—the French airline would have to operate from the country whose rights are being used.
It’s estimated that US and EU traffic constitutes about 30% of India’s total international air traffic.
Source : The Economic Times