India set to ease restrictions on local carriers flying abroad: minister

Tue Jan 14, 2014 2:47am EST
 
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By Devidutta Tripathy and Siva Govindasamy

NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - India could ease restrictions that prevent its domestic airlines from flying on international services within a month, potentially benefitting start-ups set up by Singapore Airlines (SIAL.SI: Quote) and Malaysia's AirAsia (AIRA.KL: Quote) that aim to begin operations in 2014.

Existing rules require Indian carriers to be in operation for at least five years and have 20 aircraft to be eligible to fly international routes.

Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh told reporters that New Delhi would seek the federal cabinet's approval by next month to "scrap this rule".

Indian conglomerate Tata Sons has formed a joint venture with SIA to start up a full service carrier, which is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2014.

Tata is also an investor in AirAsia India, which is expected to compete in the Indian low-cost market from the second half of the year.

Indian low-cost carrier GoAir, which began operations in 2005 but has fewer than 20 aircraft, could also be a beneficiary.

In addition, the ministry is also looking into a proposal to allow Airbus's (AIR.PA: Quote) A380 planes to land in local airports, Singh said on Tuesday.

"We have asked for comments from ground handling and immigration, security basically. Because this is the infrastructure which will be affected because one plane will have up to 500-600 passengers at a time. So we are awaiting their comments," said Singh.   Continued...

 
A GoAir aircraft taxis on the tarmac at Bengaluru International Airport in Bangalore March 9, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash