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Private airlines get S Asian flight plans ready

Bipin Chandran in New Delhi | April 02, 2004 08:23 IST

In what may be the first step towards permitting private airlines to start flights to South Asian countries, the civil aviation ministry has met domestic private airlines to discuss issues like landing slots and flight schedules.

The meeting was attended by representatives from Air Sahara, Jet Airways as well as AirDeccan. This move comes close on the heels of the government permitting private airlines to operate flights to Sri Lanka.

Jet Airways and Air Sahara have already started flights to Sri Lanka and have expressed their interest to fly to other neighboring destinations in the region.

Sources said the government enquired about the preparedness of the airlines to fly to destinations in South Asia as well as agreements with the respective civil aviation agencies with regard to landing slots.

"The meeting was held to understand the preparedness of the airlines interested in operating in the new routes as they have sought the government's permission to fly to these countries," a senior government official said. He said the meeting also discussed issues like the carriers' agreements in the respective countries.

Air Sahara has sought permission from the government to start operations to other South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries.

Government sources said the airlines have also expressed interest in starting operations to Kathmandu and Dhaka. They said the airlines are at present sorting out logistical issues like time table, fares as well as domestic links. The airlines are expected to start services to either of these two destinations in the next one month.

Aviation industry sources also said that most of the carriers, once they start flights to SAARC countries, wanted to fly to countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations as well.

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