18 Sep :Government today approved signing of new Air Services Agreement (ASA) between India and Maldives. This Agreement will replace the existing ASA signed on 5th November, 1979. The ASA is being revised in view of the developments in the Civil Aviation sector and since the old ASA had become outdated. In the new ASA some new articles have been added and it has been revised in accordance with the ICAO template. The salient features of new ASA are:-
• Both the countries shall be entitled to designate any number of airlines for operation of mutually agreed services for which the respective country shall grant appropriate authorization and permission. Earlier only one airline was designated.
• Either country may revoke, suspend and limit the operating authorization or the technical permission of an airline designated by the other country if-
(a) Substantial ownership and effective control of the relevant airline are not vested in the other country, its nationals or both; or
(b) The designated airline fail to comply with the laws and regulations of the other country relating to operation and navigation of aircraft, admission to or departure of passengers, crew or cargo on aircraft from its territory while entering or leaving that country’s territory; or
(c) Either country finds that the other country is not maintaining and administering the standards set forth in Article 6 (Safety) of the Agreement.
• Both the countries will follow the obligations, in accordance with their rights and obligations under International law, to protect the security of civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference. Upon request, both countries shall provide each other with all necessary assistance to prevent acts of unlawful seizure of aircraft and other unlawful acts against the safety of such aircraft, their passenger and crew.
• The designated airlines of either country shall have the right to establish offices in the territory of the other country for the promotion and sale of air services in accordance with the applicable domestic rules and regulations of the other country, which right shall be administered in a non-discriminatory fashion and consistent with the purposes of the proposed Agreement.
• The designated airline of either party may enter into cooperative marketing arrangements as the operating or marketing airline with any airline of same party/other party/third country.
• Either country, on the basis of reciprocity, shall exempt a designated airline of the other country, to the extent possible under its laws, from customs duties, excise taxes, inspection fees and other national duties and charges on specific items (aircraft, fuel, lubricating oil, spare parts of aircraft/engine etc.) introduced into the territory of the other country, retained or taken on board by the designated airline and which are intended for use in operating the agreed services.
• Either party may impose reasonable and just user charges on the airlines of the other country.
• The designated airline will be free to decide tariffs in respect of the agreed services at reasonable levels based on the commercial considerations and these tariff shall not be required to be filed with the aeronautical authority of the other country.
• Airlines and indirect providers of cargo transportation of both parties shall be permitted to employ, in connection with international air services, any surface transportation for cargo including transport to and from all airports with custom facilities and including the right to transport cargo in bond under applicable laws and regulations.
The revised agreement signifies an important landmark in the civil aviation relations between India and Maldives and has the potential to spur greater trade, investment, tourism and cultural exchange between the two countries.