Turkey seeks more destination rights for its airlines
"Last year we had just 70,000 tourists from India, while Turkish tourists were even less bilaterally. One of the main reasons that hinders the growth of tourism between the two countries is air connectivity," Turkish envoy to India Burak Akcapar said.
"There is only one airline (Turkish Airlines) which operates between both the countries and operates only to Delhi and Mumbai. We want the Indian government to allow Turkish Airways to fly to five more Indian cities," Akcapar told IANS.
Currently Turkish Airlines, under a code sharing arrangement with Air India, operates daily flights from Istanbul to Mumbai and New Delhi.
According to the ambassador, the five cities will include Hyderabad, Amritsar, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai.
"Operating more flights will not only give more options to travellers but also provide them competitive fares. Turkey is a major hub for transit passengers to the US and the Europe and this also provides Indian passengers a cost efficient way to travel," he said.
Under the bilateral air service agreement (BASA), Turkish Airlines has an entitlement of seven frequency of flight with a seat factor of around 1,500 passengers per week. The BASA can be changed upon a specific request from either side.
The envoy further said that a joint aviation-tourism group should be constituted that can study the issue of increasing bilateral tourism inflows and even third party transit passengers between both the countries.
"We will be sending a proposal to your government for formation of this group which can study and find ways on how to grow tourism, travel and trade between India and Turkey," he said.
"We would also like more tourists coming into India via Turkish Airlines which goes to 200 international destinations, this all will be studied by the group," he said.