Vijayawada: Emirates Airlines is set to launch international flights to and from the Vijayawada international airport. It is the first operator to have initiated a dialogue regarding bilateral traffic rights with the Airports Authority of India (AAI). If all goes well, the flights could be operational from the first week of September.
The AAI has decided to invite tenders for the appointment of a Project Management Consultant (PMC) to prepare the detailed project report for the construction of an integrated terminal building at Vijayawada. For the interim period, the Vijayawada Airport authorities are modifying the old terminal building to accommodate international operations.
According to a senior AAI officer, a bilateral Air Service Agreement (ASA) or Air Transport Agreement (ATA) is one whereby two nations allow their respective airlines to launch flights in each other’s territories. Bilateral rights are national assets; the two participating countries agree upon them not only enhance transport but also to deepen diplomatic ties.
The rights are negotiated by the governments and stakeholders in the industry. The two countries set a capacity that they can each fly into the other’s territory. For example, India and Abu Dhabi are each allowed to fly 50,000 seats worth of people and cargo to and from each other’s territory per week.
The agreement may also include details regarding flight frequencies and the kinds of aircraft that may be used. It also lists the points of call, which are a fixed set of cities in a country where the other’s airlines may fly into. Abu Dhabi has access to nine Indian cities as of now. According to the officer, the number of cities may be increased at a later stage.
Indian carriers are in need of traffic rights abroad, and so these government-to-government negotiations will continue. The NDA government had also conducted auctions for imported gas, through an online portal, for gas-based power plants reeling under fuel shortage.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation may adopt a similar strategy and auction air traffic rights as well. However, this may be restricted to countries within 5,000 km or seven-hours of flying time from India, which includes countries in the Gulf region, the Middle East and South East Asia....