Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia and India have agreed to liberalize air services, ending an aviation dispute and allowing another Indian carrier to fly to Malaysia.
In a statement late on 19 July, the Indian High Commission said the two sides signed an agreement to free up air services on 13 July in Kuala Lumpur following two days of extensive talks between their aviation authorities.
The deal followed a dispute in May when India’s aviation authority threatened to cut Malaysia Airlines’ landing rights in India if Indian budget carriers Air India Express and Air Sahara were not allowed to fly to Kuala Lumpur.
The deal would allow Air India Express to fly to Malaysia, the embassy said.
The Malaysian government granted landing rights to Air Sahara last year but then canceled it, allegedly after state-controlled Malaysia Airlines complained that passenger volumes on the New Delhi-to-Kuala Lumpur route were low.
While Air Sahara still has the landing rights, it is not clear when or if the carrier will start flying to Malaysia.
Under the new agreement, the high commission said the aeronautical authorities of both countries can designate any number of airlines to operate the India-Malaysia route.
The two sides agreed to enhance traffic between Malaysia and six key cities in India, namely New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad over the next two years, it said.
The agreement provides for code-share agreements between Malaysian and Indian carriers to make operations commercially viable, and to remove all restrictions for cargo services, it said.
“This agreement will pave the way for growth in air operations between India and Malaysia. As a direct outcome of these talks, the operations of Air India Express on India-Malaysia route are likely to commence soon,” the High Commission said.
Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India, which is expected to merge with Indian Airlines under a consolidation of state-run carriers. It is unclear how the merger will affect their flights to Malaysia.
Indian High Commission officials could not be reached for comments.
Malaysia Airlines flies 27 times a week to several Indian cities, while Indian Airlines, Air India and Jet Airways have a combined 56 flights to Kuala Lumpur each week.