India Expands ASA

15 July 2018

The Philippines and India entered a new Air Services Agreement (ASA) on July 12 allowing both countries to fly 28 flights between New Delhi and Manila, in addition to three other major cities.

The new ASA allows airlines from both countries to fly more than seven flights after Cebu Pacific and Air Asia separately requested weekly pairs. Previously, only seven flights are allowed between two city pairs. Entitlements were taken by Philippine Airlines which secured seven each for New Delhi and Mumbai. Cebu Pacific intends to operate three times weekly Manila-Delhi flights beginning 2019 with A321Neo.

The renegotiated pact allows for flights to Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai, while India nominated Cebu, Davao, and Clark that will be flown to by Indian carriers. Philippine carriers will also be allowed unlimited flights between any Philippine gateway and 18 other destinations in India.

India and the Philippines last held air-services negotiations in 2005, allowing Filipino carriers to operate seven flights per week to Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai. The same entitlement was awarded to Indian carriers, which can operate seven flights per week “on each city pair” between the two countries. The first agreement was signed in 1949.

The two parties also retained 5th Freedom rights to Bangkok as a midway point for carriers of both sides, with the possibility of disembarking and taking on passengers not originating from or destined for their own territories.

The new accord makes it also possible for the operation of third-country carriers on behalf of the parties' carriers as long as the former have the route and traffic rights through their own countries granted under agreements with India and the Philippines.

A more liberal cargo provision completes the new package of air rights.

Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Tamayo headed the Philippine Air Negotiation Panel, and was joined by Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras, Trade Undersecretary Rowel Barba, Foreign Affairs Asst. Secretary Leo Herrera-Lim, and Tourism Asst. Secretary Roberto Alabado III.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) used to fly to New Delhi in India via Bangkok in 2011, but suspended the route in 2013 due to poor sales.

This year, PAL will be launching direct flights to New Delhi and Mumbai using its medium haul narrow body aircraft, the Airbus 321Neo.

Fifth Freedom rights were also being reviewed by PAL from New Delhi and Mumbai to Tel Aviv, in Israel. Both Air India and El Al Airlines service the route from Delhi and Mumbai, respectively.

The PAL exploration prompted Air India to launch Tel Aviv which began its direct flight from New Delhi on March 22 using B787 preempting PAL flights. Both countries enjoy overflight rights to Saudi Arabia.

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