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Easing bilateral rights will help Indian carriers: Lufthansa executive

In order for an airline to operate a scheduled flight between two countries, there must be a "bilateral air services agreement" in place

Lufthansa Group

Lufthansa Group

Deepak Patel New Delhi

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Indian carriers will be better off if the restriction on bilateral rights are eased in the long term and if passengers have more choices for air travel, Harry Hohmeister, head of global markets & network, Lufthansa Group Airlines, said on Thursday.
For an airline to operate a scheduled flight between two countries, there must be a “bilateral air services agreement” in place, which is negotiated and signed by both countries. This agreement outlines the “bilateral rights”, which determine the number of flights or seats that the airline is allowed to operate per week between the two countries.
Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal had said last month that the government had no plans “as of now” to accord additional bilateral rights to West Asian carriers. Emirates and Jazeera Airways, along with other West Asian carriers, have requested increased bilateral rights from the government to expand their flight operations.
However, Indian carriers such as Air India are opposed to the expansion of these air services agreements because a large number of passengers travelling from India to North America and Europe currently use Gulf carriers. Indian carriers such as Air India are acquiring more wide-body planes to operate direct flights to these two continents.
When asked about the Indian government’s reluctance to expand bilateral rights,
Hohmeister said, “Of course, it has an effect. Behind your question is of course the right assumption that it has some kind of protectionism. In the long run, and I have said this several times, I think the airlines would be better off if they do partnerships and understand that not one airline can generate a global network. It is simply impossible.”
An airline can be strong in one region as the Lufthansa Group is the strongest in Europe, he said. “Most probably, Air India will be the strongest in India. If the strongest work together, it will be very good,” he said.
“The country, and all airlines will be better off, if they release the restrictions in the long run and if we guarantee the passengers free travel. It will take some time and I guess, it will take some work,” he noted.
Lufthansa is operating about 80 flights a week between India and Germany. The carrier announced on Thursday that it plans to operate flights on two new routes: Munich-Bengaluru and Frankfurt-Hyderabad.
Lufthansa and Air India are part of the airlines group Star Alliance. Both carriers have a codeshare arrangement between them.
“Of course, we (Lufthansa and Air India) have a partnership and would like to deepen the partnership,” Hohmeister said.
“Air India has to first find its own way. I think they are restructuring right now. It is a company with new management and it is a company with ambitions. It is redesigning its strategy,” he added.

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First Published: Apr 27 2023 | 9:15 PM IST

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