Air India loses its exclusive rights in bilateral air agreements

The ministry of civil aviation has allowed all Indian scheduled carriers, including state-run Air India, to utilise traffic rights under bilateral air service agreements (ASAs) with other countries to the maximum permissible limit.

While Air India's operational plan will receive due consideration in allocation of the traffic rights and entitlements, it will no longer enjoy exclusive privilege over all bilateral air traffic rights with foreign countries.

Air India, which had a monopoly of foreign routes since its inception, had been enjoying exclusive right of first refusal over foreign routes. Private airlines could operate only when the national carrier refused to operate on those routes.

The civil aviation ministry said the new guidelines, outlined in an inter-ministerial discussion paper, would promote international connectivity while ensuring optimum utilisation of traffic rights under bilaterals.

All Indian scheduled carriers will now be allocated up to a maximum of five schedules, according to the demand of their operational plans, capacities and capabilities and other relevant factors, the ministry said in a release.

The ministry of civil aviation will monitor utilisation of the rights and in case of underutilisation or non-utilisation of the allocated rights, the ministry may consider cancellation of the rights and levy of appropriate penalty.