India amends rules for foreign charter cargo flights
NEW DELHI – India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, DGCA, has clarified that there will be no limitations on airports that can be used for cargo-only flights operated under humanitarian and emergency needs.
The clarification is significant because of the Coronavirus pandemic and flights operated into and out of India carrying medicines, medical supplies, protective equipment and relief material.
The DGCA said changes to its Open Sky policy for foreign cargo carriers will not apply to all-cargo flights operated through the United Nations and other multilateral bodies of which India is a member. The changes will also not affect cargo flights on behalf of any central and state government agency or state-owned undertaking.
However, under the DGCA’s revised Open Sky policy for foreign cargo carriers, "operations of foreign ad hoc and pure non-scheduled freighter charter service flights will now be restricted to six Indian airports." These are Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
The changes allow Indian carriers to operate non-scheduled cargo flights from any airport in the country.
India’s Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, explained that "no changes have been made in the Open Sky policy for scheduled cargo operations of Indian or foreign carriers. Foreign carriers can still fly scheduled cargo flights to and from any point in India."
The changes applicable to charter and non-scheduled cargo flights by foreign airlines come after 28 years. In 1992, the DGCA allowed such flights from any airports in India where customs and immigration facilities are available.
Puri said that "in these COVID-19-affected times, some changes have been made in the open sky policy for cargo." wam