The decks have been cleared for private Indian carriers to fly to Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.
Carriers like Jet Airways and Air Sahara have been accorded designated carrier status by Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
This move will allow the airlines to fly to these countries under the existing bilateral air services agreements. This was announced by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The government currently permits private carriers to fly to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Government sources said these carriers would now be able to operate daily flights to some of the more lucrative destinations in the Asean region, like Singapore.
The sources also said the government had taken up the issue of increasing the air linkages with Singapore recently.
But, flying to regions like the Gulf has to wait for some time as the government has not taken a view on tapping these markets.
The government, however, was keen to permit the private carriers to fly to destinations like Europe and the US, at a later stage, the sources said.
The government had opened the doors for private domestic carriers to fly abroad after the Union Cabinet gave its nod a few months ago, allowing them to fly to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries.
Private Indian carriers have been pushing for permission to fly to countries other than the Saarc as these routes are more lucrative.Some Indian private airlines had started preliminary discussions with various airports to start services. The sources also said the airlines would also be required to sort out logistical issues like time-tables, fares and domestic links.