More Flights, Lower Fares
Transportation Secretary Norman
Mineta announced Friday that the United States and India have
initialed a landmark Open Skies aviation agreement that will lead
to more flights, lower fares and stronger economic ties between the
two countries. The agreement comes after three days of
negotiations, launched by Mineta and India's Civil Aviation
Minister Praful Patel last Thursday.
"This agreement means that US and India will be closer than ever
before," said Mineta. "Today's agreement begins a new era
where American and Indian consumers, airlines and economies can
reap the rewards of cheaper flights, more choices and faster air
Under the new agreement, airlines from both countries will be
allowed to select routes and destinations based on consumer
demand. The deal provides for open routes, capacity,
frequencies, designations, and pricing, as well as opportunities
for cooperative marketing arrangements, including bilateral
code-sharing with domestic Indian carriers. The agreement
also allows all-cargo operators to operate in either country
without directly connecting to their homeland.
India and the United States are the
world's two largest democracies and two of world's fastest growing
economies, Secretary Mineta noted. Trade between the two
nations totaled $18 billion in 2003, a 13.5 percent increase from
the previous year, and was growing at an even faster pace in
2004. Such a relationship needs to be supported by the strong
commercial aviation ties that this agreement will create, he said,
including more direct flights to serve the approximately 2 million
passengers a year traveling between the two countries.
The provisions expected to provide the greatest economic
benefit, like those affecting routes and code-sharing, take effect
immediately. The entire agreement will come into force once it is
signed, expected to take place in the near future. The new
pact replaces an antiquated agreement signed in 1956 that placed
restrictions on the number of airlines that could fly between the
two countries, cities that could be served, the frequency of
service and pricing.
With this Agreement, India will become the 67th bilateral US
Open Skies partner.