India to allow unlimited flights to and from Greece

India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Greece to allow unlimited number of flights into each other’s countries, a top official said.

“We have signed a MoU and initiated the air service agreement with Greece for open skies with them. Greece will become the first country with an open sky arrangement under our new civil aviation policy,” R.N. Choubey, Civil Aviation Secretary, told reporters at the Global Airport Development (GAD) Asia Conference here on Wednesday.

Under the new civil aviation policy, India plans to enter into ‘open sky’ air service agreements (ASA) with SAARC countries and with countries beyond 5,000 km radius from Delhi.

Countries sign ASAs through bilateral negotiations to decide on the number of flights that airlines can fly into each other’s countries. Under the open sky pact, there is no restriction on flights or seats.

Mr. Choubey said India will allow airlines from Greece to operate unlimited flights to six Indian metropolitan airports. However, Indian carriers can fly to Greece without any such restriction, Mr. Choubey said.

At present, India has an open sky agreement with the U.S. and a near open sky agreement with the U.K. under which there are certain limitations on the number of flights that can be operated at the Mumbai and Delhi Airports. For ASEAN or SAARC countries, India has an open sky agreement with more than a dozen countries.

“We have written a note verbale to all the 109 countries with which India has a bilateral agreement conveying to them about our open sky policy under the new civil aviation policy,” Mr. Choubey said.

India will soon hold talks with Dubai to increase the bilateral seat entitlements with them. Before that, the Civil Aviation Secretary said, it will call a meeting with the domestic airlines by September 20 to ascertain their future flight plans to the Dubai Airport.

Major domestic airlines such as IndiGo, Jet Airways and SpiceJet had recently complained over non-availability of commercially and operationally feasible slots for them at the Dubai Airport. “We will take up this matter separately with Dubai,” Mr. Choubey said.

Speaking at the conference, Mr. Choubey said India will invest $6 billion for building and modernising the airport infrastructure in the next five years.

“Out this, Airports Authority of India (AAI) will invest a little less than $3 billion in the next five years in upgrading its various airports,” he said.

Mr. Choubey also said more than $2 billion would be invested in two greenfield airports at Navi Mumbai and Goa along with expansion at Delhi and Mumbai Airports. Further, $1 billion will go into reviving 50 small airports in the country.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 11:21:47 PM |

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