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Home > Business > PTI > Report

Private airlines can now fly to Sri Lanka

October 22, 2003 02:25 IST
Last Updated: October 22, 2003 02:35 IST

Private airlines in India, which operate only in the domestic sector, will now be allowed to extend their operations to Sri Lanka.

Pursuing its open sky policy, New Delhi offered to allow daily air services between Colombo and six Indian metropolitan cities by Sri Lanka's designated airlines. It was also agreed to allow unlimited access for Sri Lankan carriers to 18 tourist destinations in India.

Sri Lanka has agreed to reciprocate in terms of access that airlines from India could have to its airspace.

"With a view to increasing tourist flow and connectivity, it was decided to encourage private scheduled airlines of India to extend their operations to airports in Sri Lanka," said a joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremasinghe.

Airlines from Sri Lanka will be allowed to operate daily air services between Colombo and Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata without prejudice to existing arrangements.

Both prime ministers, while expressing satisfaction at the increased civil aviation links between the two nations, noted that Sri Lankan Airlines had already increased the number of its weekly flights to Indian destinations from 29 to 44 since their last meeting.

Wickremasinghe also proposed commencement of a ferry service linking Colombo with Kochi in Kerala.

Meanwhile, leading private airliners in India have welcomed the move to allow them to operate services to Sri Lanka.

"We expect more foreign destinations to be added to this list," Air Sahara CEO Uttam Kumar Bose told PTI.

A Jet Airways official, Saroj Dutta, also welcomed the move and said, "We will take a decision (on operating flights to Sri Lanka) after getting an official communiqué."

The move to allow private domestic carriers to fly abroad comes ahead of the Naresh Chandra Committee, set up to chalk out a roadmap for the civil aviation sector, making its final recommendations. The panel is likely to recommend, among other things, opening up of the international sector for private Indian carriers.

Recently, a third private carrier, Jagson Airlines, was granted scheduled operator status.

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