India, S Africa to expand air services agreement

The union cabinet today approved the civil aviation ministry's proposal to expand the scope of the air services agreement between India and South Africa.

Under the current agreement, signed in 1988, which permits the two designated airlines Air India and South African Airways are allowed to operate 14 flights week each with a maximum seat limit of 5,600 per week. However, there is no restriction on the type of aircraft to be operated between the two airlines.

There is no bar on the number of airlines that each country can designate to fly in to each others territory. While only South African Airways is at present designated as a national carrier, India could also designate private carriers like Jet Airways or Kingfisher Airlines, along with the already designated Air India. (NZ-26/12)

The new air services agreement would be based on the guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN body which frames rules for global air travel.

According to home minister P Chidambaram the revised agreement would signify an important landmark in civil aviation relations between India and South Africa.

"It has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between the two countries," Chidambaram said.