Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 19
After a gap of almost three decades, the central government has amended its Open Sky Policy for foreign cargo carriers with a view to ensuring fair and equal opportunity in the air cargo capacity offered by Indian registered operators.
The operations of foreign ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights will now be restricted to six airports. These are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, according to the orders issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation on September 18.
The Open Sky Policy had been adopted by the central government in 1990 that allowed air taxi-operators to operate flights from any airport, both on a charter and a non-charter basis and to decide their own flight schedules, cargo and passenger fares.
The earlier policy on the subject promulgated by the DGCA in May 1992 had stated that cargo flights by scheduled and non-scheduled operators, both Indian and foreign, may be cleared freely from airports where customs and immigration facilities are available. Cargo flights into India were also permitted.
In 1993, there were 11 operators in India with a fleet of 27 aircraft holding non-scheduled operators permit. By 2019, this sector had grown to 98 operators and 317 aircraft. DGCA data reveals that while Indian non-scheduled operators carried 4,752 passengers in the international segment in 2018-19, no cargo was carried that year.
The fresh limitations on airports that can be used will not apply to all-cargo flights operated under humanitarian and emergency needs through the United Nations and other multilateral bodies of which India is a member.
All-cargo flights hired by or carrying cargo belonging to any central and state government ministry, department of public sector undertaking will also be permitted to operate with requisite priority to and from any airport in India where customs and immigration facilities are available.
DGCA has also said that Indian operators facing any systemic and non-systemic discriminatory and restrictive practices or regulatory impediments in operating international cargo flights in any of the foreign countries should bring such issues to its knowledge for appropriate action.
Foreign carriers will have to apply for clearances for cargo flights to the DGCA which reserves the right to deny permission for operating such flights. Flight operators are required to meet the stipulated operational and safety requirements.