Aviation ministry to open overseas routes to private Indian carriers

The civil aviation ministry will throw open global routes for private airlines in the country as part of the measures to help the sector out of the current financial mess, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said today.

About 500 to 600 new international flights, including new destinations such as Uzbekistan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Vietnam, will be opened up to private carriers this year, he said.

''Increasing international traffic rights can help private carriers eliminate some of their financial problems, as international routes are more profitable,'' the minister said at the India Aviation 2012 today.

Besides, he said, opening up of FDI in the domestic sector and allowing airlines to directly import aviation turbine fuel (ATF) will go a long way in easing the cash crunch of airlines.

He, however, said it would take some time for Indian carriers to start importing ATF directly, as oil companies have to set up infrastructure facilities for it.

ATF constitutes more than 40 per cent of the cost of operation of airlines in India against 20 to 25 per cent in the US.