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India, Canada agree on unlimited bilateral flights as relations improve 

Canada today announced allowing unlimited direct flights from India, doing away with the cap of 35 flights per week applicable for a long time (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@airnewsalerts)

Chandigarh: Canada today announced that it was now allowing an unlimited number of direct flights from India, doing away with the cap of 35 flights per week which was in place for a long time.

The open skies policy marks an improvement in relations between the two countries which had a rough patch as Canada had refused to rein in the activities of Sikh radicals.

The decision is a part of the expanded Canada-India Air Transport Agreement aimed to provide more travel options and promote trade between the two countries.

Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said that from now onwards there would be no limit on the number of cargo flights either between the two countries. India is the 4th largest air travel and cargo partner of Canada.

In answer to a question, Alghabra explained that it was for the private and government carriers to decide from and to which destination they would like to operate in Canada. It was not yet decided whether Air Canada would start direct flights from Amritsar, he said.

As many as 5 lakh passengers travel annually from India to Toronto alone, the majority of them Punjabis. A direct Air Canada flight from Calgary, the capital of Alberta state, to Delhi is also on the anvil.

Until now Indian carriers flew only to Toronto and Vancouver, the most densely populated cities of Canada, home to a majority of the Indian diaspora.

The Indian Consul General, Ms. Apoorva Srivastva, earlier said that the decision to start flights from Amritsar depended entirely on the operating airlines.  There was no bar on them from choosing Amritsar to start direct flights to any city of their choice in Canada.

The highest number of flights operate between Delhi and Toronto, making both airports the world’s busiest.

The decision of the Canadian government comes after Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia held talks with Alghabra in May this year during his 9-day visit to Canada.