The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) is in the process of devising a comprehensive, long term policy, which would guide the country’s bilateral agreements with other countries. No request from any country or airline for an increase in seats would be entertained till such a policy is in place, official sources told FE. The government’s civil aviation policy had skipped bilaterals in the absence of a wider consensus on the subject. This stand of the aviation ministry is significant since in recent times some of the Gulf states like Dubai and Qatar have sought increase in the existing number of seats by revising the existing bilateral agreements.
“Bilaterals are an important tool for the growth of civil aviation sector in India and we are going to use it wisely to ensure the growth for the sector in the country. We are trying to take a long term approach in the bilateral related issues and have to talk to the domestic airlines to formulate a long term policy on bilaterals,” a senior official in MoCA told FE. Going by the agreement with Qatar currently airlines on both sides have 24,292 seats and airlines from Qatar have utilised 80% of the deployed seats while the the Indian airlines haven’t.
As a policy, India only looks at revision of bilateral agreement once airlines on both sides have utlised 80% of the deployed seats. Bilateral agreements with Dubai can be revised since airlines on both sides have used the number of seats on offer. Unless the seats are increased any new airline will not be able to start operations on the sector.
Senior officials in MoCA have already conducted one meeting with airlines regarding the clubbing of the bilaterals of four states of UAE and the lack of available seats in Dubai. In the coming days there would be several rounds of discussions on this issue. “We have to see that India grows as a civil aviation hub just like some of the states in the Gulf countries. So any decision taken related to bilaterals would have a bearing on this,” the official said.