Russian carrier Aeroflot which is currently operating limited service to Delhi is all set to expand its operations in India by including five more cities including Ahmedabad
Under the India-Russia bilateral air service agreement, Russian carriers can operate flights to six points of call or destinations in India -- Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Goa and Amritsar. Indian airlines are permitted to fly to six destinations in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to Civil Aviation ministry.
The ministry has bent its regulation of not allowing a new point of call to any foreign carrier for operating passenger service. Several requests of foreign airlines to operate from south Indian cities including Madurai have been cold shouldered by the ministry for several years.
At present, the Indian government is not granting any non-metro airport as a new point of call to any foreign carrier for operating passenger services. This is due to a "significant imbalance in the number of points of call in favor of foreign carriers," as per the civil aviation ministry.
India and Russia have "in principle" agreed to revise their bilateral air services agreement whereby Russian carriers will be allowed to operate as many as 64 weekly flights to various Indian cities, official sources were quoted by media reports.
Under the existing agreement, Russia can operate up to 52 weekly civilian flights to India. India has "in principle" agreed to increase the number of weekly flights that Russian carriers can operate to India to 64 from 52. In this regard, the bilateral air services agreement will be amended soon.
Currently, Aeroflot is operating seven weekly flights to India mostly to Delhi while no Indian airline is flying to Russia. Earlier, Air India used to operate flights to Moscow. Last month, an Indian delegation led by Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal visited Moscow for a meeting related to bilateral cooperation in civil aviation. A protocol on cooperation in the civil aviation sector was also formalized at the meeting on February 17, the civil aviation ministry had said in a tweet.
The meeting, which was part of the ninth session of the India-Russia Sub-Group on Cooperation in Civil Aviation, was chaired by Bansal and Russian Deputy Minister of Transport Igor Chalik.
India has bilateral air services agreements with around 116 countries. Any designated airline of a foreign country can operate to/from a point in India if it is designated as a point of call in the bilateral air services agreement signed between India and the country concerned.