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Lighthouse - March, 2016.

Qatar Hits Out at India Over Traffic Rights

Qatar Airways CEO has hit out an Indian government proposal to sell the country’s air traffic rights.

In October last year, the civil aviation ministry released its draft civil aviation policy which contained a proposal to have an open skies policy with countries in South Asian neighbours and countries beyond 5,000 kms.

The policy also proposed to auction additional traffic rights beyond the existing rights to airlines from countries within 5,000 kms. The bidding would be introduced if domestic airlines have not fully utilised their quota, with those rights granted on a three-year basis, with fund raised going towards the regional connectivity fund.

Speaking at Singapore Airshow, HE Akbar Al Baker said he was disappointed at India’s decision to auction the air traffic rights, known as bilaterals, which he said was against foreign carriers operating freely in the country’s air space, according to a report in Economic Times.

Al Baker insisted that the air traffic rights should remain in the control of a country, and not be sold to an entity that India may not have a strategic interest in.

He said foreign airlines that operate freely in Indian airspace help boost trade and tourism, as well as generate jobs for locals. Qatar Airways currently operates from 13 Indian cities.

International Air Transport Association has also expressed concerns that the move may lead to higher fares.

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