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Pvt airlines may be allowed to operate to SE Asia

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Sept. 5

THE private sector airlines may get permission for operating to the South-East Asia nations by the end of this month. Official sources said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation would try to send the proposal allowing private airlines to start regular operations to the ASEAN countries for Cabinet approval towards the later part of this month.

"The guidelines for allowing private airlines to begin operations to South-East Asia are yet to be firmed up. However, in-house work has begun on this. But it will be too premature to say that the formula which was followed for allowing the private airlines to operate to the South Asian countries will be followed for South-East Asia also," the Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, told Business Line.

The proposal, once it gets the Cabinet nod, would allow the private sector airlines to operate to destinations such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, among other countries.

There was a great deal of expectation that the previous regime at the Centre would allow the private sector airlines to start flying abroad. However, at the last Cabinet meeting of the NDA Government chaired by the former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the only proposal which was cleared was to allow private airlines to start operating regular flights to the South Asian region.

However, Mr Vajpayee had, in October 2003, announced in Bali that the designated airlines of the 10-member country Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) would be allowed to operate a daily flight to and from the four Indian metro cities, apart from having unlimited access to 18 tourist destinations in the country. The ASEAN offer, as it was known, was subject to reciprocal rights to India carriers, Mr Patel had recently announced in Parliament. However, the wish of some airlines of the Far East to seek permission to fly from India to other international destinations other than their home country may not be acceded to.

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