To cater to the ever-growing transfer passenger traffic demand from India, Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines plans to exponentially expand services and add several new destinations, once bilateral air traffic rights between the two countries are enhanced, a senior company official told IANS.
Accordingly, Turkey's government has again approached India's Ministry of Civil Aviation to start negotiations on a new air service agreement for allocating more airport slots to airlines of both the countries.
"Our authorities have approached the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation for the enhancement (of the bilateral traffic rights). This is a government to government talks. As and when we get it, we will start flights to new destinations in India," Mert Dorman, SVP, Corporate Marketing, and Distribution Channels, Turkish Airlines told IANS.
"We are ready for offering more flights but before that to happen the two countries' aviation authorities need to enhance the bilateral rights. As of now demand is very high and not enough seats on Istanbul route are available."
Dorman's views were corroborated by Ismail Polat, Chief Planning Officer of Istanbul Airport.
Talking to IANS, Polat said that transfer traffic has increased from India to Istanbul with the start of IndiGo's operations here.
However, he expects more transfer passenger traffic to be generated on the route, once the new bilateral air rights are negotiated.
As per nomenclature, these equitable traffic rights are allocated under an air service agreement between the two countries.
Currently, 3,000 seats each can be offered per week on both ways between India and Turkey.
Nonetheless, these bilaterals have been exhausted, as Turkish Airlines operates 14 times a week to both New Delhi and Mumbai from Istanbul.
The airline's codeshare partner IndiGo operates two daily services between Delhi and Istanbul.
IndiGo had commenced its services to Istanbul earlier this year.
Last month, Turkish Airlines Chief Executive Bilal Eksi met with Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in New Delhi and requested to enhance the traffic rights.
At present, Turkish Airlines has over 300 passengers and cargo aircraft flying to over 300 destinations worldwide.
The airline launched its operations in India with flights to New Delhi in 2003 and Mumbai in 2006.