India today inked a preliminary pact with Greece for bilateral Air Services Agreement that proposes to allow unlimited points of call for domestic airlines in the European nation.
Seeking to improve international air connectivity for Indian carriers, the government has been entering into air services pacts with many countries besides making efforts to re-negotiate existing agreements.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey today said India and Greece have signed an MoU for Air Services Agreement (ASA) under the ‘open sky’ policy.
“We have (proposed) to give six points of call and India will have unlimited points of call in Greece,” he said on the sidelines of an event here.
Once inked, it would be the first such ASA with Greece, which is known for its tourist spots and scenic beauty.
According to Choubey, this is also the first MoU with a country under the provisions of the new civil aviation policy.
As per the policy, the government would enter into an ‘open sky’ air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5,000 kilometre radius from New Delhi.
“Unlimited flights above the existing bilateral rights will be allowed directly to and from major international airports within the country as notified by Ministry of Civil Aviation from time to time,” it said.
However, the points of call at other airports under the existing air service agreements would continue to be honoured till the same are renegotiated.
Meanwhile, the ministry would hold discussions with local airlines on bilaterals before starting negotiations with Dubai.
The ministry would have discussions with “domestic airlines on bilaterals before September 20… before negotiating seat entitlements with Dubai,” Choubey said.
Last month, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had said the government is ready to open negotiations with the Gulf nations in general and Dubai in particular to enhance the bilateral air traffic rights between the two markets.
“For the past two years, there has been a tremendous improvement in the utilisation levels of the bilaterals by our airlines with the Gulf nations. While it is 80 per cent for the region as a whole, with Dubai it is over 90 per cent now.
“And with the limits being reached, we are ready to open negotiations with them again. I think we should begin with Dubai shortly,” he had said.
Between India and the Gulf, around 4.2 lakh seats are available every week, with Dubai leading the chart with 66,504 seats each per week.
For the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the Civil Aviation Ministry expects to soon ink pacts with Uttar Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Choubey said.
Already, it has signed MoUs with Maharashtra, Gujarat and Jharkhand for RCS.