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India plans open sky pact with countries within 5,000 kms'

PTI:  July 14, 2017

New Delhi: Gulf carrier Oman Air's CEO Paul Gregorowitsch today said that India has plans to have open sky agreements with countries within a radius of 5,000 kilometres.

An open sky air service agreement allows for airlines from the two countries to have an unlimited number of flights as well as seats to each other's jurisdictions.

"If the current policy of the Indian government to also consider an open sky (agreement) for those destinations which are within 5,000 kilometres materialises in the next two years, then it will automatically (provide us) a more level environment," Gregorowitsch said at a media round table here.

The move could be implemented by 2020, the Oman Air CEO claimed.

"From (the) information I have received in Oman, Indian government has said it will consider it (open sky agreement) by 2020," he said.

He also said that such a move would be a "win-win" for both India as well as the Oman carrier, as the latter is planning to add more aircraft and more destinations.

However, the move should be complemented with more airports being made available in the country by permitting military airports to be used for civil purposes, he added.

As per the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016, the government will enter into an open sky air service agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC countries and countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5,000-kilometre radius from New Delhi.

"For countries partly or fully within the 5,000-kilometre radius, where the designated carriers of India have not fully utilised 80 per cent of their capacity entitlements, but foreign carriers/countries have utilised their bilateral rights and are pressing for increase in capacity, a method will be recommended...," according to the policy.

Oman Air has been able to add 5,067 seats in summer this year. In the winter schedule too, it will add 1,821 seats after the bilateral agreement between the two countries was revised to permit the carrier to operate additional seats.

The total weekly flights have now gone up from 128 to 161.

"This has allowed us to move to a total 27,405 seats, while we are allowed to have 28,000 seats between Oman and India," Gregorowitsch said.

He also touched upon the challenges facing the airline because of infrastructural shortcomings at airports in India.

"In Mumbai, we are moving from double (flights) daily to triple (flights) daily. While we have bilaterals, the infrastructure is quite difficult as there is only one runway," Gregorowitsch added.

While speaking about diplomatic tensions facing Qatar, he said the tension in relations affected all countries in the region.

"If you look at markets, they look at the middle east as one big entity and unrest in Qatar reflects on all the nations. There are no winners, there are only losers. People could have second thoughts because they sense a kind of instability in parts of middle-east," he said.

Currently, the airline has 47 aircraft in its fleet, which comprises Boeing 787S, Boeing 737s, Airbus 330s and Embraer 175s.

Its plan to expand the fleet size to a total 70 aircraft and serve 75 destinations by the end of 2020 has been postponed to 2023.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.