India opening access of international routes to private carriers, to open 500-600 new services
India's Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh stated the Ministry is opening access of international routes for domestic private airlines, as part of its initiatives to improve the financial state of India's aviation sector. “Increasing international traffic rights can help private carriers eliminate some of their financial problems, as international routes are more profitable,” Mr Singh said, as reported by local media including PTI, IANS, Live Mint and The Hindu Business Line. He added that in 2012, between 500 and 600 new international services would be opened up for private carriers. "We will have new flights to countries like Tajikistan, Tanzania, Egypt, Ethiopia and Vietnam," he said, adding a “special focus in on African countries, as Indo-African bilateral trade and partnership is set to expand". He continued, "Africa is one region where we want to have more flights because our economic ties are growing". India is also looking to improve air connectivity with Europe and Australia, he added. Mr Singh also noted Air India has only been able to use 30-35% of the total bilateral traffic rights available with India. "This year it will go up to 40 percent," he said. The Ministry reportedly requested all eligible airlines to submit their international plans earlier this month.