Air India would no longer enjoy exclusive privilege
over all bilateral air traffic rights with foreign countries as the government has decided to allow all Indian carriers to use these rights.
As the state-owned carrier had since inception continued to enjoy exclusive right
(Right of First Refusal) due to its historic monopoly over foreign routes, private airlines could operate only when the national carrier said it would not operate on them.
As a result, several routes and flying slots remained unutilised.
However, Air India's operational plans
would get due consideration when traffic rights and entitlements are allocated, new changes made in the bilateral policy show.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has now decided to allow all scheduled Indian carriers, including Air India, to utilise allocated bilaterals till they reach the maximum permissible limit under Air Service Agreements (ASAs) with various countries, an official spokesperson said.
The ASAs fix the maximum number of flights or seats to be operated by designated carriers of both countries each week.
The allocation of traffic rights to Indian airlines would now be done well in advance upto a maximum limit of five schedules, keeping in mind the demands from them, their capacities and capabilities, operational plans and other factors, the spokesperson said.
The utilisation of these rights by airlines would be regularly monitored and oversight maintained on them by the ministry. In case of under-utilisation or non-utilisation of these rights, the ministry could cancel them and levy penalties on the airlines, according to the changes made in the policy.