Now, three-year-old airlines can fly abroad

The eligibility norms for airlines seeking to fly abroad are all set to be relaxed. The government is planning to ease the entry condition to a minimum of three years of domestic operations from five years at present.

Low-cost carrier Air Deccan may be the first to make use of the relaxed norms since it has already completed three years in August 2006. It is expected to retain the existing low-cost model for foreign destinations as well.

The government’s proposal follows heavy lobbying from the domestic airline industry, which has been demanding easier norms for foreign operations. Airlines like Kingfisher, SpiceJet and Air Deccan have shown interest in expanding their operations to foreign destinations.

“The idea of allowing private airlines to fly overseas is to enable strong competition to foreign carriers,” a civil aviation ministry official said. The changed norms will kick in with the new civil aviation policy, which is likely to be put in place by January 2007.

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