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India knocks on Singapore, Sri Lanka's doors for flights
Shekhar Niyogi, Kolkata, March 4, 2013

INDIA'S Ministry of Civil Aviation is initiating negotiations with the governments of Singapore and Sri Lanka for additional flights, even as the country's capacity to Japan is set to increase soon.


According to Ajit Singh, India’s civil aviation minister, current seat entitlements between India and the two countries are almost exhausted.


Tiger Airways is in talks with SpiceJet and Indigo for an alliance to route passengers from smaller cities to Hyderabad for onward travel to Singapore. Passenger traffic between Singapore and India grew 10.4 per cent last year.


Out of Sri Lanka, carriers such as Mihin Lanka are also seeking flying rights to more Indian destinations after the launch of services to New Delhi, Varanasi and Gaya in February. India is Sri Lanka’s largest source market, comprising 23,500 one-way seats a week or 25 per cent of flight capacity out of Colombo.


Anil Punjabi, chairman ­– east, Travel Agents Federation of India, said: “There is a persistent demand for flights to cities like Colombo and Singapore from Indian carriers. Given the low yield on most domestic sectors, Indian carriers should be allowed to fly to as many international destinations as our air service agreements will permit.”


Meanwhile, Japanese carrier ANA is planning to quadruple Mumbai-Tokyo Narita flights to four daily flights. The airline will also introduce thrice weekly flights to Bengaluru and four weekly flights to Chennai within this year.


Most Indians travelling to the US transit in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong, and ANA is set to make Tokyo the fourth gateway on this route.


Kenji Sugino, general manager India, ANA, said the Indian market was “crucial” for the airline.


ANA has also strategically introduced flights at Mineta San José International Airport, which reduces travel time for passengers going to Silicon Valley as compared to landing at San Francisco International Airport.

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