Air India loses preferred status for allocation of International Flying Rights

Air India, which was until early 2022, a government-owned carrier, was for the longest time, given preference in the allocation of international air traffic rights over other private airlines, in line with their status as the airline owned by the state. However, they have now lost this treatment, as the airline has been privatised.

Air India’s preferential treatment to go away

Air India will no longer get a preference over other airlines in being allocated international flying rights under India’s bilateral air service agreements, which dictate the agreement India has with the other countries about how much capacity is allowed to fly to India from the other country’s airlines, and from India to the other country. For instance, from India to Turkey, 1,500 seats can be offered by airlines from Turkey and from India per week.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), India’s aviation regulator, has issued revised guidelines which have knocked off a clause that used to be stating preference be offered to Air India. The revised guidelines have deleted a clause which used to read,

Due consideration shall be given to the operational plans submitted by Air India before allocation of the traffic rights to the other eligible applicants.

In fact, Air India used to corner significant rights and sometimes under-utilised the rights granted to them, in the process, blocking other airlines from launching flights as well on the routes. Air India had to be usually asked if they wanted to operate on a particular route before another airline would be approved for the route. This will be of use for all the other airlines who want to compete for an increased share of international flights out of India.

This should sound like music to the ears of IndiGo, who is going to go for some of the same markets possibly as Air India offers currently when they get to induct their A321XLR aircraft.


As Air India has been privatised, the preferential treatment that it used to be offered in terms of the allocation of International capacity is now withdrawn, and all the airlines will be treated equally going forward.

What do you make of this new move from the Indian DGCA to provide a level playing field to all airlines going forth?

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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