The government on Friday announced enhancing air services to South Korea to 19 flights per week from the current six flights, besides granting two additional points of call-Chennai and Bengaluru-to the carriers of the East-Asian country.
The decision to increase air services was announced following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and South Korea, a civil aviation ministry release said.
Apart from Tokyo and Los Angeles, two additional beyond points of call-Seattle and Vancouver-have been granted for Indian carriers.
This means the Indian carriers can mount air services to these destinations via Korea so that the operations could become more economical, the release said.
As part of the MoU, Ho-Chi-Minh city, the commercial hub of Vietnam, would serve as an intermediate point for Indian and South Korean carriers in addition to Bangkok, Macau or Hong Kong, it said.
Besides, both India and South Korea agreed to allow domestic code-share to any four points in their respective countries, it said.
The two sides had been negotiating a deal to boost connectivity since 2012. The signing of the MoU comes against the backdrop of two rounds of inconclusive talks in December, 2012 in New Delhi and October 2014 in Seoul, as the two sides could not come to an agreement on various issues including number of frequencies to be increased and the quantum of fifth freedom rights on intermediate points, the release said.
One major success of the bilateral negotiations with Korea is the retention of fifth freedom on intermediate points at 100 per cent, which had been a bone of contention in the previous talks, it said.
For fifth freedom for beyond points India succeeded in keeping the ratio at more than 50 per cent (10 out of 19 frequencies) which was earlier only 50 per cent of traffic rights, the release said. The 5th freedom rights, allows carriers of the two countries to carry passengers to a third country.