The UAE and India should have an open sky policy instead of an air service agreement between them, the Gulf nation’s Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna said on Wednesday, asserting that such a move would benefit airlines of both countries.
The UAE is India’s trusted partner and its investment commitment is a testimony of its confidence in the economic growth story of India, Al Banna said at a webinar.
The UAE is the largest Arab investor in India having a share of about 85 per cent of the total Arab investment in the country, he said. ”There exists immense untapped growth potential in many different sectors. The UAE wants to be the preferred economic partner of India and we want to work closely with India to improve on many different levels,” Al Banna said at the webinar organised by Vijay Jolly, President of the Delhi Study Group.
One of the most important aspect is the improvement of air connectivity which is yet another important economic growth catalyst that facilitates trade and tourism, he said. ”We have 1,068 flights between the UAE and India. More than 50 or 55 per cent of Indians who travel outside India, they use Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their transit points,” he said.
”We need to look into having what we call an open sky policy, instead of having an air service agreement, which is limited in terms of capacity, in the number of seats,” Al Banna said. Calling for a rethink on the issue, the UAE envoy said the two sides should look for a stronger collaboration wherein both Indian and UAE airlines would benefit.
An open sky air service agreement allows for airlines from the two countries to have an unlimited number of flights as well as seats to each other’s jurisdictions. The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016, allows the government to enter into an ’open sky’ air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000 kilometre radius from New Delhi.
India has signed open sky agreements with the US, Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka, among other countries.