Indian Aviation Sector Opens Its Skies to Foreign Freighters Amid Easing Restrictions

turkish air cargo

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has announced the lifting of COVID-19-era restrictions on foreign airlines, permitting ad-hoc and non-scheduled cargo flights to operate to all international airports across the country. This marks a significant move aimed at bolstering India’s air freight capabilities and enhancing connectivity. The revision of rules for freighter operations marks a pivotal shift from the previous directive, which limited such operations to only six designated cities, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Under the new directive issued by DGCA, foreign carriers will now have the freedom to operate ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights to any international airport in India for a duration of three years from the date of issuance of the aeronautical information circular. This decision is poised to benefit a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including foreign airlines, airport operators, and local industries.

According to the DGCA, operators must adhere to stringent operational and safety standards while conducting ad hoc non-scheduled cargo flights. Scheduled cargo operations by foreign carriers will continue to be governed by bilateral air service agreements with respective countries, ensuring compliance with international aviation norms and regulations.

The relaxation of restrictions is anticipated to have far-reaching implications, particularly for companies like the Adani Group and GMR, which operate airports in non-metro cities. By extending the scope of cargo operations to all international airports, the initiative is expected to spur economic growth, lower logistics costs, and stimulate trade activities across diverse regions of the country.

Currently, a substantial portion of international freight transportation in India is concentrated in the six designated cities. The expansion of cargo flight operations to include all international airports is poised to decentralize air cargo traffic and unlock new opportunities for businesses in emerging markets.

Expressing optimism about the prospects of the revised regulations, industry stakeholders have welcomed the move as a timely intervention that will bolster the Indian economy and provide additional capacity for exports.

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