Singapore not to ink bilateral pact on flights

Mumbai, March 27 | Updated: Mar 28 2005, 06:25am hrs
Singapore has refused to sign the bilateral agreement for flights with India. This means the hoped-for increase in the number of flights between the two countries is unlikely to happen. Earlier this month, representatives of the Indian and Singapore governments met to sign the bilateral. agreement But the meeting was inconclusive.

For the time being, there does not seem to be any possibility of further negotiations.

The issue gains significance in the light of the governments permission to allow private domestic carriers including Jet Airways and Air Sahara to fly to more overseas destinations including Singapore.

A senior official in the aviation industry told FE, Representatives from both the countries met earlier this month, but the signing of the bilateral agreement did not take place.

The official added that the talks were centred around the issue of having more flights between India and Singapore.

Officials at Air-India and Jet Airways refused to comment on the issue.

The civil aviation ministry has already given its nod to Jet and Air Sahara to fly seven flights a week to Singapore. While Jet will begin operations from April, Air Sahara will launch its services in May. Air Sahara has just triggered a fare war by introducing a Rs 10,000 return fare on the route. According to Singapore Airlines general manager (India) B K Ong, the airline is trying to lure the traveller by offering lower fares.

Mr Ong indicated that with Jet Airways and Air Sahara entering this sector, an initial fare drop is very likely, but later the fares are expected to stabilise.

Currently, Air-India offers a round trip to Singapore for Rs 13,100.

The airline operates 24 flights a week besides the code sharing flights. Air-Indias low cost airline, Air-India Express which is expected to begin operations to the Gulf countries from April is also looking forward to Singapore as a key destination.