The government has withdrawn some of the overseas flying rights granted to IndiGo, run by InterGlobe General Aviation Pvt. Ltd, and handed them to state-owned Air India Ltd, according to two government officials who did not want to be named.
“This is the first time it has ever happened,” said one of the two officials, referring to the clause under the air services agreement that allows Air India to prevent the allocation of rights to another Indian carrier. “Generally, the number of seats available in any bilateral are always surplus. In this case, the number of seats for Oman were falling short. And Air India wanted to start flights, so the rights (to IndiGo) had to be curtailed.”
The second official confirmed the move. It was communicated to the airline in June.
The move will mean that the country’s biggest low-fare carrier, which has a 19.6% share of the domestic market, will only be able to fly four times a week to Muscat instead of all seven days as per the original sanction.
IndiGo, which has 42 Airbus SAS 320 planes, will start overseas services in September with flights to Bangkok, Dubai and Singapore. It hasn’t announced its schedule for flights to the capital of Oman.
The rights to fly daily to Muscat from Delhi and Mumbai had been granted in January by the then civil aviation minister Praful Patel, who moved on to the heavy industries portfolio on 19 January 2011. With another 12 A320s to be added to its fleet this fiscal, IndiGo Air plans to launch several more overseas flights to West and South-East Asia. But a freeze by the civil aviation ministry on approvals for fresh foreign rights may stall that plan.
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