INDIA'S Ministry of Civil Aviation has approved flights to a host of new destinations for Indian carriers. As a result, they can operate 1,526 flights a week during summer 2013, up from 1,074 this year.
Permission has been granted for destinations such as Macau, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Zurich, Sydney, Melbourne, Moscow, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Nairobi and Al Najaf (Iraq) with immediate effect. No Indian carrier currently flies to these cities.
The ministry will also begin talks with Singapore, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai for increased flights.
On top of that, it will start fresh dialogues with several countries on mutual increases in entitlement. Although some foreign carriers are utilising as much as 98 per cent of their allocation, Indian carriers are not using even half.
Gulf-based carriers such as Etihad Airways and Emirates have upped flight capacity to 54,000 seats per week and Qatar Airways, 18,000, but Indian carriers are only taking up 4,000 seats to Doha, for example.
Rajendra Churiwala, director-eastern region, IATA Agents Association of India, said: “Indian carriers flying to new destinations in Asia and Europe are a big boost to tourism. Many countries like Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Indonesia and Macau are popular international tourist destinations, but were not getting enough traffic from India due to a lack of direct flights. Now, outbound volume should improve greatly.”
B T Ramnani, director, Vensimal World Travel Agents, said: “Opening up new cities for Indian carriers will help fulfil India’s target of 12 million tourists by 2015. Direct flights from these destinations will help bring more tourists into the country.”