India and Canada on Wednesday, May 4 discussed the expansion of a bilateral air service agreement that will allow more flights between the two countries.
Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is on a nine-day visit to the US and Canada, met Canadian Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.
“I personally thanked my counterpart for India’s help in repatriating Canadians stuck in India at the beginning of the pandemic,” Alghabra stated on Twitter after the meeting. Alghabra said he had a productive meeting with Scindia regarding issues of mutual importance to Canada and India.
Canada has a huge number of people of Indian descent in its total population.
“We spoke about expanding the Air Transport Agreement allowing for more flights between the two countries. Further cooperation at International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on Annex 13 and other issues,” he mentioned.
He said he is looking forward to more conversations to open up travel between the two countries including flights to Amritsar.
For the airlines of a particular country to operate international flights to another country, the two sides have to negotiate and sign a bilateral air services agreement, which decides how many flights (or seats) per week can be allowed to fly from one country to the other.
Once such an agreement is signed, each country is free to allocate the bilateral rights to its respective airlines. Even after such flying rights are allocated to an airline, it must have slots at both airports to start flight operations.
A slot is a date and time at which an airline’s aircraft are permitted to depart or arrive at an airport. The slots are allocated by a committee that consists of civil aviation ministry and regulatory officials, airport operators and airlines, among others.
At present Air India and Air Canada operate 29 non-stop flights per week between Canada and Delhi. There are demands to start direct flights between Amritsar and Canada while Mumbai airport is looking to re-establish a connection with Canada.
However, the launch of new routes would also depend upon the geopolitical environment. In fact, Air Canada is suspending its thrice-weekly Vancouver-Delhi service from June because of restrictions on the use of Russian airspace.
Apart from the plan to increase air connectivity, the two ministers also discussed furthering technical cooperation in civil aviation. Scindia who is on an official visit to the US and Canada has met business leaders, visited manufacturing plants and also articulated India’s efforts on lowering carbon footprint in aviation.
“India is working towards making its airports carbon neutral shortly to emerge as a responsible player in the international civil aviation industry,” Scindia said.
India on the other hand committed in the COP-26 meeting in 2021 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070 and is of the view that de-carbonisation efforts should be equitable for all countries.