India to relax rules on domestic airlines' international operations

This story is sourced from

India’s government is moving towards dropping restrictions on its carriers operating international services. Under the existing regime, Indian carriers are required to operate domestically for five years and have 20 aircraft prior to launching international services.

In a media interview, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said that the ministry is drafting up a cabinet note to scrap the rules, which only apply to Indian carriers. He adds that there are some “technical considerations”, but notes that the government would like to remove the rules by the end of November.

The change will be a major boost for India AirAsia and the proposed joint venture between Singapore Airlines and the Tata group. Both prospective airlines are expected to target domestic routes initially, but a change of regulations will allow them to consider launching international services much sooner.

It will also be a relief to local low-cost carrier GoAir, which has been lobbying Singh for an exemption to the rule that would allow it to launch some regional international services.

GoAir was launched in 2005, but only has a fleet of 15 Airbus A320s, which has barred it from flying internationally.

Earlier this year, Singh also moved to scrap the aircraft acquisition committee, which was required to approve the delivery schedules of Indian carriers. This also follows the move last year to allow foreign airlines to own up to 49% of an Indian carrier.