| Air Sahara president Ronojoy Dutta (left) and British Airways commercial director Martin George in Delhi on Thursday. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, July 7: India and Bhutan have agreed to increase the number of flights between the two countries from 12 a week to 49. The cap on the size of aircraft to be flown has also been removed.
Besides flights to and from Delhi, Calcutta and Gaya, airlines can use Mumbai and Chennai to link Bhutan.
Bhutan's national carrier Druk Air can operate seven flights a week to each port of call. It can also operate up to 14 flights to Gaya.
Currently, Druk Air is operating three flights a week to Delhi via Kathmandu and five to Calcutta with onward rights to Bangkok. No Indian carrier is flying to Bhutan.
Bhutan also has the rights to fly to Dhaka and Singapore after touching Indian cities, subject to a cap of 14 flights a week.
Under the fifth freedom right, Druk Air can land in any of the pre-designated destinations, pick up passengers and fly to a third country. It has also been granted fifth freedom rights over Gaya to Bangkok and Yangon and over Guwahati to Bangkok.
The Indian government has also agreed to a request by Bhutan to conduct a feasibility study and draw up a master plan to set up an international airport at Gelephu in southern Bhutan.
Air Sahara tie-up
Air Sahara and British Airways have tied up to synchronise flight schedules, launch joint fare products and explore ways to have a code-share agreement in the future.
The two airlines 'have agreed to evaluate schedules, routes, flights, ground services and frequent-flyer programmes to identify opportunities to add value to customers'.
Air Sahara president Ronojoy Dutta and British Airways commercial director Martin George said they were also exploring the potential for codeshare opportunities, subject to government approvals, in three months.
George added the British carrier planned to increase frequencies between the two countries by 'more than 100 per cent', besides starting flights between Bangalore and London.