Open Skies agreements eliminate government interference in the commercial decisions of air carriers about routes, capacity, and pricing, freeing carriers to provide more affordable, convenient, and efficient air service for consumers.
Open Sky Agreements are bilateral agreements that the two countries negotiate to provide rights for airlines to offer international passenger and cargo services. It expands international passenger and cargo flights. USA and European Union has such agreement which permits unlimited flights subject to operational feasibility between 2 countries.
Policy of India:
India has Air Service Agreements (ASA) with 109 countries including UAE covering aspects relating to the number of flights, seats, landing points and code-share. But does not allow unlimited number of flights between two countries.
The National Civil Aviation Policy (2016) of India:
The policy of 2016 allows the government of India to enter into an ‘open sky’ air services agreement on a reciprocal basis withSouth Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000 kilometre radius from New Delhi.
In plain English this means that countries within 5,000 kilometer of distance need to enter into a bilateral agreement and mutually determine the number of flights that their airlines can operate between the two countries.
India has many such open sky agreements with countries like Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Finland, USA, Japan, etc.
That was pre Pandemic world of globalization. With air traffic coming to a hault on 24 March 2020 we are in a new world. India has started entering into agreements with many countries like Germany and UK which have been called air bubbles but these are simply bilateral agreements fixing the number of flights which each country will operate into territory of each other.
This means all previous agreements are as good as dead letter or will those agreements revive automatically in future?
Something tells me that this pandemic gives another opportunity to clean up the mess created by previous Government in it ten years corrupt regime when everything was for sale including lives of people and territories. Yes Manmohan Singh, We know it now.
Therefore the Government may use the clean slate to work and create an actual bilateral agreements not dictated by ‘donations.’