GoAir has received government’s approval to fly to nine countries including Iran, Uzbekistan and Kazakhastan, with the Wadia group airline now expecting to take to international skies early next year.
The approval for the Mumbai-based carrier which has been operating for over a decade, comes more than two months after the government eased the overseas flying norms for Indian airlines.
The airline has received approval to operate flights to nine countries, including Iran, China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Kazakhastan, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia, a senior official said.
“We have got approval to fly to nine countries. We expect to start international operations from the next summer schedule,” GoAir chief executive officer Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said. Generally, the summer schedule commences from the last Sunday of March and extends to the last Saturday of October every year.
GoAir would be the first Indian private carrier to fly to any CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). CIS countries for which the carrier has got flying nod include Uzbekistan, Kazakhastan and Azerbaijan.
Currently under the air service agreements, Indian carriers can operate 31 weekly services to Iran, seven to Azerbaijan, Kazakhastan (21), Uzbekistan (18) and China (42). In case of Vietnam, Indian airlines are allowed to operate 28 weekly services and permitted unlimited operations from 18 select tourist destinations in India.
Under the bilaterals, the quota for seats and services are equal for airlines of the two countries concerned. GoAir currently has a fleet of 21 Airbus aircraft including two fuel-efficient A320 neos. It is the lone one among the established players that is yet to start overseas flights. Its peers –IndiGo and SpiceJet — already operate international flights.
The erstwhile 5/20 norm, whereby local carriers were required to have at least five years of flying experience and a minimum of 20 aircraft to fly overseas, had restricted GoAir since it did not have the required number of planes to operate on international routes.
Only in June this year, GoAir saw its fleet rise to 20 planes with the induction of first A320 neos. Around the same time, the government decided to do away with the 5/20 rule and replaced it with 0/20 norm as part of the new civil aviation policy.