India and Brazil, which currently have no air connectivity between them, today decided to hike the number of weekly flights by over five times and designate any number of airlines to operate these services.
The decision to pave the way for increased air connectivity was taken at a meeting here today between Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and Brazil's Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, with both signing a bilateral air services agreement (ASA) that superseded the previous one.
There have been no flights between the two countries for several years.
As per the ASA, the number of weekly flights was raised from four to 21 in each direction with any type of aircraft, not exceeding the capacity of a Boeing B-747 aircraft or about 1,600 seats, an official spokesperson said.
Both sides decided to designate "any number of airlines" as flag carriers to operate air services. Under the earlier ASA, the two governments could allow only two carriers from each side to operate as designated airlines.
The two sides felt that the new agreement would spur greater trade investment and tourism and also strengthen cultural exchange between the two countries.
The designated airlines of each side would be entitled to operate any point in each other's territory via any intermediate point. They would also be allowed to fly beyond to any point, as per the ASA.
In a bid to encourage their airlines to start operating flights, both governments also agreed to exempt the other's designated carrier "to the fullest extent possible" from payment of customs duties, excise taxes, inspection fees, other national duties and charges on specific items like aircraft, fuel or spares, the spokesperson said.
The two sides agreed that they would not impose user charges on each other's airlines higher than those imposed on all other airlines operating.
An 'open sky' arrangement for all cargo operations already exists between the two governments, implying that cargo carriers can mount any number of flights carrying air freight.
The new ASA also allows both governments to provide each other with all necessary assistance to prevent acts of unlawful seizure of aircraft and other illegal acts against the safety of such aircraft, their passenger and crew, she said.