New Delhi: India has rejected the Chinese government’s request to allow its carriers add more flights on the India-China route after strong opposition from Indian carriers which felt that the move would jeopardise their own expansion plans.
IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir along with Air India, in a rare show of solidarity, decided to oppose the Chinese plan in a recent meeting with aviation ministry officials. The meeting was held after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s China trip in June where the Chinese government demanded an increase in flying rights for its carriers.
Carriers from each side are allowed to operate 42 flights a week according to the current quota. The Chinese have used up about 93% of the quota compared with Indian carriers’ 12%. However, carriers such as SpiceJet, IndiGo and Vistara plan to launch international operations soon.
GoAir has sought to launch flights between India and China. Analysts lauded Indian carriers’ move to expand the India-China route given its potential to increase revenue and earnings.
India in the past has listened to its carriers and rejected similar demand from foreign countries, Qatar being a case in point. The Gulf country’s demand was rejected despite a request from the PMO as local carriers were unable to exhaust their quota of rights. In the case of Dubai too, flying rights were not increased after Dubai authorities did not agree on offering preferred slots to Indian airlines at their airport.
The new rules also make it more difficult for the government to agree to China’s request. The new civil aviation policy links flying rights with any country with the usage level of Indian carriers. Additional rights can be given only if Indian carriers use about 80% of the existing rights. There are, however, provisions for exemption in case Indian carriers do not have any future plans for the routes.