Lonely Planet Writer

India lifts archaic airline restrictions in a major boost for air travel

The Indian government has approved a major overhaul of the country’s air travel sector.

Taj Mahal may become more accessible to travellers from abroad with fewer airline restrictions.
Taj Mahal may become more accessible to travellers from abroad with fewer airline restrictions. Image by Abhijeet Rane / CC BY 2.0

Part of the new proposals will see restrictions lifted on Indian airlines flying abroad. There are also new incentives for carriers to fly into into smaller towns across the nation, many of which are not well connected by air. The International Business Times reports that several restrictions will be scrapped to level the playing field for new entrants into the aviation sector. Up to now, carriers had to operate at least 20 aircraft for over five years in the domestic market. It is envisaged now that an airline will have to use just a fifth of its fleet strength or 20 aircraft to secure international flying rights.

Air Asia official
Air Asia group chief described changes as a “big day for Indian aviation.’ Image by Simon Clancy / CC BY 2.0

Newer airlines like Air Asia and Vistara which started within the last few years have lobbied for the dropping of the archaic rule which established carriers wanted maintained. Air Asia group’s chief Tony Fernandes tweeted: “Big day for Indian aviation.” In an attempt to make travelling by air more affordable for its people, the government’s draft policy plans a price cap for hour-long flights of 2,500 Indian rupees (st£26) or 1,500 rupees for half-hour long travel time. The Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said that within six years India would be the third largest civil aviation market. Proper vision, planning and execution was needed if it was to achieve this growth, he added. Over 80 million passengers fly each year in India and the sector has encountered 20% year on year growth.