The civil aviation ministry has allowed Indian carriers to increase the number of flights to destinations in the Middle East and South East Asia.
SpiceJet, which has huge international expansion plans, is the primary beneficiary of the ministry’s move.
The other airlines are IndiGo, which has got permissions to launch flights to Dubai, and connect Singapore from Kolkata and Chennai. These flights will be in lieu of flights from Delhi and Mumbai that IndiGo stopped because of aircraft limitations. IndiGo flights to Singapore from Delhi and Mumbai with Airbus 320s were not profitable for the airline.
Jet Airways too, has got permissions to launch a daily flight to Dubai from Kochi.
These permissions were given to enable Indian carriers to match international rivals in terms of utilisations of foreign flying rights out of India.
The ministry’s steps would result in the utilisation of Indian carriers crossing the 50 per cent mark — higher than the over 40 per cent utilisation by international carriers.
The utilisation of foreign flying rights were as low as 23 per cent till March 2012, when civil aviation minister Ajit Singh allowed Indian carriers to increase the utilisation to 40 per cent.
The civil aviation ministry, until March 2012, had put a freeze on allowing fresh rights to Indian carriers to fly international destinations. The freeze was put after Air India requested the government to bar private carriers from flying abroad to avoid competition in the international sector.
In April, the government increased bilateral entitlements between India and Abu Dhabi by nearly four times.
The government, meanwhile, is also discussing a move to increase bilateral seat entitlements between India and Qatar. The gulf nation has asked for an increase from 24,000 weekly seats currently to 72,000 seats. Even as Qatar has exhausted nearly all its current bilateral entitlements, the Indian carriers have utilised less than 10,000 seats.