No ‘Normal’ International Flights Till April 2021; No Foreign Airlines Will Be Allowed At Expense Of Indian Airlines
On Thursday, Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the availability of a vaccine will determine the future of international flights.
Read on to know more…
When Will the International Flights start? Not Soon!
The civil aviation minister has hinted that the international flights might remain suspended till March-April 2021.
“It is difficult to say as there is no country which has completely opened its borders for all. It depends on the availability of a vaccine as countries will feel more confident once a vaccine is there,” said Hardeep Singh Puri when questioned about the continuation of the air bubble till March-April 2021.
Puri also said, “There are basically three issues to consider before resuming regular international flights. One, resuming domestic connectivity connecting bigger cities to smaller town, which we have already done. Second, the nature of the virus on which I can’t comment and the third is international restrictions. Every country wants their people to return, but for others there are plenty of restrictions.”
The Lufthansa Issue!
A Snippet of Backstory!
A few weeks back, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s (DGCA) told Lufthansa not to carry any sixth freedom passengers on its India-Germany flights. (The sixth freedom right lets an airline to fly passengers from one country to another, and allows those passengers to board a connecting flight to a third country.)
The catch here is that India and Germany have an air bubble agreement in place which allows special flights to operate between the countries. As per DGCA, an airline operating flights under an air bubble agreement cannot carry sixth freedom passengers from India.
Many Indian nationals avail Lufthansa or Gulf carriers like Emirates to travel to the US or Canada.
This decision by DGCA led to the cancellation of Lufthansa’s flights between India and Germany from September 30 to October 20.
After this development, Germany withdrew permission that led to the cancellation of Air India flights to Frankfurt till October 14.
During the press conference on Thursday, Puri addressed this issue and said, “The issue is not about allowing foreign carriers in or not. We are all for foreign carriers operating here. Make no mistake. But I think the time has come for the message to go out loud and clear that it will not be done at the expense of the Indian carriers.” He also said, “Under the regulated (air bubble) arrangements, we are not insisting on total parity. Even near parity will do.”
“If the (air bubble) arrangement is being carried out only for sixth freedom right, then obviously we would want parity because we have direct flights between us and the US and between us and Canada. And we would like the US and the Canadian carrier (to operate). So, there is no difficulty in negotiation either,” Puri pointed out.
Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said that India is in talks with Germany to make amends to the existing air bubble pact between the two countries.
The amended air-bubble agreement might resume smooth air travel between Germany and India again!
We will keep you updated.