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India and Japan sign open sky agreement

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India and Japan have signed an agreement that will allow their airlines to operate unlimited number of flights between the two countries. The pact followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe holding strategic discussions on a wide range of issues. An official release said India and Japan exchanged RoD (record of discussions) on civil aviation cooperation with respect to open sky.

“It opens skies between India and Japan – Indian and Japanese carriers can mount now unlimited number of flights to the selected cities of each other’s countries,” the release said. The National Civil Aviation Policy, 2016 allows the government to enter into an open sky air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries beyond a 5,000-km radius from New Delhi.

Currently, Japanese carriers – All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines – fly into India while Air India and Jet Airways operate services to Japan. Last year India signed open sky agreements with Greece, Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka. India also has open sky agreement with the US, among other countries.

Last week, full service carrier Vistara had announced plans to enter into a code share partnership with Japan Airlines by next year. Vistara is also likely to unveil plans for international operations soon and Japan is on the radar, it had said.

The open sky agreement between India and Japan is also expected to bring down airfares, according to travel portal Yatra.com. “The agreement will not only encourage connectivity and passenger travel between the two countries, but will also result in reduction in airfares on these routes,” said Sharat Dhall, COO, Yatra.com.