Indian airlines have urged the government to allow them to fly to several foreign cities by tapping un-utilised bilateral rights, as they held discussions on the issue with their counterparts from 35 nations in Mumbai. Top officials of Indian carriers recently made a strong plea for allowing them to use the slots in several overseas destinations, which are not being operated by Air India.
However, rejecting the contention that private carriers were not being allowed to use such un-utilised slots or flying rights, official sources said while Air India itself may not be able to utilise the entire quota of bilateral air services rights, private carriers too were Indian carriers and there was no reason why they would not be allowed, reported zeenews.com. The sources said officials of the Indian airlines met Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi last week and briefed him on their concerns, which also included high rates of taxation on jet fuel and other financial issues.
Meanwhile, officials of Indian carriers are holding discussions with their counterparts from 65 nations who are participating in the ongoing Fourth Air Services Negotiation Conference (ICAN/2011) of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Mumbai. A separate session is being held at this major event on bilateral air services negotiations between Indian and African carriers.
The prime contention in these negotiations is on the formation of Fifth Freedom Rights to designated African and Indian carriers. Fifth Freedom means the right of an airline to fly to a second country and then onwards to a third one, carrying passengers from the second.