The govt. is refusing to allow any non-metro airport as a new “point of call” for passenger operations, given the enormous imbalance in favour of these carriers.
The minister of state for civil aviation, V K Singh, stated in a written response that the government has a policy of encouraging expanded international operations by Indian carriers from non-metro points, either directly or through their own domestic and international operations.
The minister added that under the terms of bilateral air services agreements reached by India with other nations, Indian-authorised carriers are permitted to mount scheduled operations to/from any airport to international locations.
According to him, air services agreements are bilateral in nature and reciprocity is upheld in such contracts. He also said that in the past, because multiple points of call were granted to foreign nations, an imbalance was created whereby foreign carriers had access to various points in India while Indian carriers only have access to one or two points.
Accordingly, the government has taken note of the effects of giving foreign carriers unrestricted access to Indian airports on the domestic aviation ecosystem and has made the deliberate decision to not grant any non-metro airport as a new point of call to any foreign carrier for operating passenger services. This is in the interest of the Indian aviation ecosystem, the minister said.
Jyotiraditya M. Scindia, the minister of civil aviation, stated in the Lok Sabha on December 8 that Coimbatore has been designated as a “point of call” for Sharjah, Dubai, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In response to a query from Pollachi MP K. Shanmugasundaram, who brought up the issue of Coimbatore International Airport‘s poor international connectivity, Mr Scindia stated that at the moment, Coimbatore airport has connectivity to Singapore and Sharjah on 10 and 14 weekly frequencies, respectively.
The designated carriers of Singapore, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Sharjah, the U.K., and the U.S. can already use Coimbatore as a point of call.
The Central government now does not permit any non-metro airport as a new point of call to any foreign carrier due to the considerable imbalance in the number of points of call in favour of foreign carriers.
Last year in November, Retd Gen V.K. Singh asked whether the government will review the then bilateral policy facilitating foreign airlines to Kannur International Airport in Kerala. The airport was commissioned in December 2018.
The ministry was asked by the Kerala government to allow international airlines to use the Kannur airport. Additionally, the state administration pushed for the airport to be included in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Open Sky Policy.
The Junior Aviation Minister added that there was intense public pressure to resume regular international flights.
A similar situation has emerged this year. In the past, because multiple “points of call” were granted to foreign nations, an imbalance was created whereby foreign carriers had access to various points in India while Indian airlines only had access to one or two points.
(With inputs from The Hindu)