Open Sky Policy

Open sky refers to an agreement between two countries to allow any number of airlines to fly from either of them without any restriction on number of flights, number of destinations, number of seats, price and so on. However, this is a general definition. In actual practice, there are always some restrictions.

India’s current Open Sky agreements

Currently, India has open sky agreements with US without restriction. Further, it has such agreement with some restrictions wit UK’ a limited open-sky with ASEAN and bilateral agreements with more than 100 countries.

  • There is no restriction on number of flights, seats or destinations to / from United States.
  • India has open-sky with UK with restriction on frequencies with respects to flights to and from Mumbai and Delhi.
  • For some tourist destinations of ASEAN, India has limited open sky policy.
  • India has also entered into bilateral agreements with more than 100 countries over landing points, traffic rights, seasons, capacity etc.

Open sky policy in National Civil Aviation Policy 2016

The National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 has proposed to remove all restrictions on number of flights to and from destinations in SAARC and a radius beyond 5000Kms. Within that radius (covering West and South Asia as well as the countries to the east) flying rights will be auctioned. The government would enter into Open Sky agreement with SAARC countries and countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5000 km radius from New Delhi. Under this:

  • Unlimited flights above the existing bilateral rights will be allowed to and from major ports of the country.
  • Additional seats above the existing seats within the 5000km radius from New Delhi will be auctioned.

The above proposals imply that European airlines and SAARC airlines (which fall outside 5000 kilometres from New Delhi) will have unlimited access, in terms of number of flights and seats, to some airports in India. For countries within 5000 kilometres, the rights will be auctioned so that the revenue accrues to the government. The government has also restricted this to few airports to protect the domestic airlines.