Air India will no longer enjoy priority in the award of international traffic rights. This follows the acquisition by Tata Sons in January.
The General Directorate of Civil Aviation has removed a clause that Air India included in the June 19
The rules deal with airline eligibility criteria for applying for traffic rights, procedures for allocation, use and penalties for non-use.
The earlier rule stated that “due consideration must be given to the operational plans submitted by Air India before traffic rights are allocated to other eligible applicants”.
This clause has now been removed following the privatization of Air India. “All airlines are now equal. It’s a positive step,” noted a senior airline executive.
Governments negotiate bilateral aviation agreements with each other. These determine the number of flights and destinations that airlines can operate between two countries. These entitlements in the form of number of seats or flights per week are mutually exchanged. In India, claims are held by the government and granted to an airline upon request.
India has signed aviation agreements with 121 countries. The Civil Aviation Ministry has signed separate agreements with Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah, although they are part of the United Arab Emirates.
Before the pandemic, India was connected to around 55 countries with non-stop flights. That number has fallen further in the summer timetable, which went into effect at the end of March.
Air India and Air India Express have secured approvals to operate 361 and 340 international departures per week respectively in the summer schedule. This includes flights within Asia as well as to Australia, Europe and North America. Flights to Russia have recently been suspended due to aircraft insurance issues.
According to the offering document released in January 2020, Air India made only partial use of its allocated seats on routes to Malaysia, Singapore and West Asia.
Air India did not respond to an email inquiry regarding this issue.
“The rule was particularly beneficial when demand for seats outweighed available entitlements. On such occasions, Air India would be granted the desired number of seats and other private airlines would be asked to moderate their requirements,” a source said.
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