India and Russia have "in principle" agreed to revise their bilateral air services agreement whereby Russian carriers will be allowed to operate as many as 64 weekly flights to various Indian cities, according to a senior official.
Under the existing agreement, Russia can operate up to 52 weekly civilian flights to India.
India has "in principle" agreed to increase the number of weekly flights that Russian carriers can operate to India to 64. In this regard, the bilateral air services agreement will be amended in due course, the official said.
Currently, Aeroflot is operating seven weekly flights to India while no Indian airline is flying to Russia. Earlier, Air India used to operate flights to Moscow.
On the condition of anonymity, the official also said it will take some time before Russian carriers will be able to fully utilise the quota of the total number of weekly flights permitted to operate to India.
Last month, an Indian delegation led by Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal visited Moscow for a meeting related to bilateral cooperation in civil aviation.
A protocol on cooperation in the civil aviation sector was also formalised at the meeting on February 17, the Civil Aviation Ministry had said in a tweet.
The meeting, which was part of the ninth session of the India-Russia Sub-Group on Cooperation in Civil Aviation, was chaired by Mr. Bansal and Russian Deputy Minister of Transport Igor Chalik.
Under the India-Russia bilateral air service agreement, Russian carriers can operate flights to six points of call or destinations in India – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Goa, Amritsar and Ahmedabad. Indian airlines are permitted to fly to six destinations in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, as per an update with the Civil Aviation Ministry as of March 7.
India has bilateral air services agreements with around 116 countries.
Any designated airline of a foreign country can operate to/from a point in India if it is designated as a point of call in the bilateral air services agreement signed between India and the country concerned.
At present, the Indian government is not granting any non-metro airport as a new point of call to any foreign carrier for operating passenger services. This is due to a "significant imbalance in the number of points of call in favour of foreign carriers," as per the Civil Aviation Ministry.