India Signs Open Skies Agreement With Six Countries During ICAN 2016

International Civil Aviation Negotiations (ICAN) – 2016 were held recently in Nassau from 5th to 9th December, 2016.  In an informal conversation with media persons Shri R.N. Choubey, Secretary, Civil Aviation said that  the Conference was attended by 106 countries out of ICAO membership of 191 countries. India held negotiations with 17 countries and “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed with 12 countries.   The major issues resolved at these negotiations as per the directions in National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP 2016) are:

1. Increase in traffic rights:- India renegotiated traffic rights with Oman increasing the entitlements with 6,258 seats effective from Summer 2017 as the existing entitlements were nearly exhausted. The points of call remained unchanged.

India agreed with Saudi Arabia to increase the capacity by 8000 seats per week from IATA season when Indian carrier’s utilization reaches 80%. This was in response to the needs of increasing traffic between the two countries where Indian carriers have been utilising open sky in Damman to mount more flights than the Saudi Arabian side.

Indian also agreed with Ghana to increase the present allocation of 2 frequencies to 7 frequencies per week to encourage connectivity between the two countries.

2. Open Skies agreement as per NCAP 2016 :- allows unlimited number of flights to six metro airports namely Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai, was signed with six countries namely Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic,   Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka. The new arrangement will encourage connectivity and passenger travel between India and these countries.

3. New Air Service Agreements were signed with Jamaica and Guyana.

4. Code Shares:- In the present scenario code shares provide seamless connectivity to the travelling passengers and make possible connectivity between far off destinations not served by direct flights.  As per NCAP 2016 code shares are to be encouraged and keeping this in view, negotiations were completed with 9 countries to enable the legal framework between the governments of these countries to make possible code shares between the airlines of two sides. The negotiations have  enabled domestic code shares with Czech Republic, Portugal and Malaysia, domestic and international code shares including third country airlines with Guyana, removal of restriction of counting of capacity in case of code share with 3rd country carriers and domestic code  share to additional two points to Mauritius, code share with 3rd country carriers and 4 additional domestic code share points with Saudi Arabia and Spain and code share with 3rd country carriers with Sri Lanka.

5. Resolution of other issues relating to Air Services Agreement was also completed with Ghana, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

The main features of the negotiations are as under:-


An MoU was signed with Finland by which the 4 provisions of Joint Declaration namely code shares, intermodal services, routing flexibility and open sky on cargo, which is a mandatory requirement of Horizontal Agreement coming into force was agreed to by Finland.  This completed the directive of Confidential Record of Discussions. Further domestic code share was agreed to on 5 points in the territory of both parties.  The domestic code share points for the designated airline of Finland are Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata.  For the designated airlines of India, these additional points have been specified by India at the discretion at a later date.


An MoU was signed  as per the mandate of HMCA, by which 7 additional frequencies (already allowed to Kazakhstan vide NV in 2012) was formalized.  On request of Kazakhstan the limit of 7 frequencies from one point of call was increased to 10.  The two signed agreed to review the initialed ASA as per the latest Article 11 given by the Indian side.  Third country airlines code share and domestic code share operations to four points was also agreed to by both sides.


As per the mandate given by HMCA, an MoU was signed, whereby 7 additional frequencies were allowed to both sides and Hyderabad was allowed as an additional point of call on request by Kenyan side.  Domestic code share was agreed to from any 4 points by both sides.  Kenya agreed to grant one additional point intermediate and beyond point with full 5th freedom rights in Africa to India.


An MoU was signed by which the 4 provisions of Joint Declaration namely code shares, intermodal, routing flexibility and open sky on cargo, which is a mandatory requirement of Horizontal Agreement coming into force was agreed to by the three Scandinavian countries.  India accepted Norway request for bring Norway-India bilateral in line with Horizontal Agreement on receiving a letter to this effect from European Council.  Sweden allowed India another a new point namely Gothenburg for code share operations.


An “Agreed Minutes” was signed with Serbia whereby comments received from the Serbian side on Model ASA was acknowledged by India.   The Indian side agreed to handover their comments on the text of Serbia Model ASA agreement in due course and the discussion on the same shall be progressed through correspondence.  The two sides also agreed to finalize the ASA at a convenient date.


Detailed negotiations were held with the Hellenic Republic of Greece wherein India requested Greece to agree to the four clauses as per confidential Record of Discussions dated September, 2008 to implement the Horizontal Agreement.  The representative of Greece stated that they are agreeable to all the 4 clauses but cannot sign any MoU, till ASA between the two countries is agreed /initialed.  They are unable to do so as per law.The two sides discussed in detail the text of the ASA and sought to reach a consensus.  However due to shortage of time two sides were unable to finalize the text.  Hence an “Agreed Minutes” was signed with Greece wherein both sides enclosed the finalized text of the ASA to the “Agreed Minutes”.  The Greece side requested that India must confirm the acceptance of the finalized text through exchange of diplomatic note or through a meeting within a period of three months from the signature of the “Agreed Minutes”.  The Greece side also agreed that while ASA would come to force immediately on being initialed,  EU designation progress shall be applied only after the Horizontal Agreement come into force.  This was a major achievement for India.


An MoU was signed with Oman whereby as per earlier mandate approved by HMCA, additional 5131 seats were granted.  The additional operations be restricted to only one airport of Kerala namely, Cochin to 7 additional flights.  Further additional flights were also allowed at Bangalore(7), Lucknow(4) and Jaipur(3).  The Omani side agreed to this proposal after long negotiations.  The approval of mandate for giving one additional frequency in Kerala  had been put up before leaving for ICAN in two separate files namely Oman as well as Minutes of Inter-Ministerial Consultations for ICAN. While Secretary, CA has asked to discuss the file on Oman, the discussions could not be held due to paucity of time.  In view of the above,  it was specifically mentioned in MoUthat the entry into force of this agreement will be only on receipt of the final confirmation from both the sides through diplomatic channel not later than 30 days. The Omani side requested for increase in the frequencies to two airports in Kerala i.e. Trivandrum and Cochin.  However, the Indian side did not agree to this proposal.


On the request of Qatari delegation to meet for preliminary discussion before bilateral talks, as also desired by the Prime Minister office, a meeting was held with the Qatar delegation during ICAN,2015. A“Record of Discussions” was signed with Qatar, in which their request for additional frequencies was noted by Indian side and Qatari side was informed that Indian carriers have not exhausted their traffic rights presently hence any increase will be considered at a later date.  The two sides agreed to exchange modern ASA text to update the Air Services Agreement.


The Horizontal Agreement signed with European Union in September, 2008 has not yet been implemented by India largely due to the directions of the Confidential Record of Discussion signed along with Horizontal Agreement.  India has stated that all the members of the European Union must agree to the 4 clauses namely code shares, intermodal, routing flexibility and open sky on cargo so that India’s interest are safeguarded against the European Union designation clause which would be activated on the implementation of the Horizontal Agreement. A productive discussion was held with the representative of European Commission wherein India’s latest efforts to successfully initial with the remaining 11 European Union Member state to agree to the above 4 clauses was appreciated and the EU representative also agreed to help India in its efforts.  Indian delegation informed EU that during ICAN, 2015 India successfully met 5 EU counties namely Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Greece to finalize this  issue.  An “Agreed Minutes” were signed with representative of EU in which India confirmed its commitment to implement Horizontal Agr4eement and EU agreed to support India’s initiatives.  Both sides agreed to cooperate on other aviation matters of mutual interest.


As per mandate of HMCA, MoU was signed by which 7 additional frequencies were exchanged between the two countries.  Ethiopia was allowed to exchange Bangalore with Kolkata as a point of call.  Three additional domestic code share points exclusively to code share with Air India were granted namely Jaipur, Kolkata and Pune.  The two sides agreed to review their ASA for modernization of provisions.


The representative of Brunei Darussalam had requested for bilateral talks with India and were keen to meet the Indian delegation during ICAN, 2015.  Record of Discussions was signed between the two countries, whereby the entitlements between the two countries were clarified and Brunei desire of increase in 5th freedom rights was noted by Indian side.  For the modernization of Air Services Agreement, copy of Model ASA was handed over by Indian side to Brunei, to which Brunei agreed to send their comments and hold bilateral discussion

Brief on Air Services Agreement (ASA)/Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded  recently

SI No.


Date of Signing of ASA/MoU




19thOctober, 2015 Both sides agreed to incorporate following clauses :-

  • Code share with 3rd country
  • Intermodal services
  • Routing flexibility
  • Open sky on cargo
  • Domestic code share on 5 points



19thOctober, 2015 Both sides agreed to incorporate following clauses:-

  • 3rd Country Code share provision
  • Domestic code share on four points.



19thOctober, 2015 Both sides agreed on following:-

  • Enhancement of capacity entitlements from 14 to 21 services per week
  • Hyderabad has been granted as additional points of call to designated carrier of Kenya
  • Domestic code share was agreed on four points
  • Kenya was also agreed to grant on one additional point, one intermediate point and one additional beyond point in Africa with full 5th freedom right



20thOctober, 2015 Capacity entitlement was enhanced by 5131 seats per week. The total capacity entitlement has been increase from 16016 seats per week to 21147



20thOctober, 2015 Both sides agreed following:-

  • Capacity entitlement has been increase from 21 to 28 services per week
  • Kolkata has been replaced with Bangalore as a point of call for Ethiopian carrier
  • 3 point of call for domestic code share operation with Air India was granted namely Jaipur, Kolkata and Pune



21stOctober, 2015 Both sides agreed to incorporate following clauses :-

  • Code share with 3rd country
  • Intermodal services
  • Routing flexibility
  • Open sky on cargo
  • Gothenburg has been granted as a point of call for domestic code share operation by Indian Carrier



Ministry of Civil Aviation

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