India, Japan open skies for each other's airlines

India and Japan on Thursday signed an agreement that will allow their airlines to operate any number of flights between the two countries, as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe pushed integration of the two economies a bit further.    

India and Japan also exchanged the 'Record of Discussions' (RoD) on civil aviation cooperation with respect to open sky, an official release said.    

"It opens the skies between India and Japan, ie, Indian and Japanese carriers can now mount an unlimited number of flights to select cities of each other's countries," the release said.

Currently, Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines fly into India while Air India and Jet Airways operate services to Japan.    

Last week, Tata Group joint venture Vistara announced plans to enter into a code share partnership with Japan Airlines by next year. Vistara is also likely to start international operations soon and Japan is on the radar, it had said.    

India already has open sky agreements with Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain, Sri Lanka and the US, among other countries.    

The agreement, signed after strategic discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on a wide range of issues, is also expected to bring down airfares.

"The agreement will not only encourage connectivity and passenger travel between the two countries, but will also result in a reduction in airfares on these routes," according to COO Sharat Dhall.

The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, allows the government to enter into an 'open sky' air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000-kilometre radius from New Delhi.