Direct flights benefit both economies
en.hangzhou.com.cn   2024-06-27 11:31   Source: China Daily Global

The immediate resumption of direct flight services between India and Chinese mainland will meet the needs of both the Indian and Chinese people and benefit both economies, industry insiders said.

Direct flights are always the first preference for travelers. Today, travelers often look for ease of travel with visa relaxations and direct flights. Jyoti Mayal, president of the Travel Agents Association of India, said there will always be an increase in footfall if every country follows these.

It enables countries on both sides to concentrate on prominent and focused marketing by airlines and tourism boards, Mayal said.

Atul Dalakoti, executive director of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told China Daily that direct flights are always welcome by travelers and businesspeople. "We hope that India and China can, through dialogue, work together to improve relationships and solve existing issues between them," he added.

Direct flight services between Chinese mainland and India were suspended in March 2020 at the outbreak of the pandemic. But services have not resumed since then.

The lack of direct flights between the two nations has posed major challenges for hundreds of Indians who study in China, as well as the families of many Indians, including businesspeople, who began to work in China after travel restrictions were lifted by both countries.

Passengers from India currently travel to the Chinese mainland through Singapore, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar after paying exorbitantly high airfares.

Indian trader Shranik Chopra said since China is an important destination for many businesspeople from India, there must be direct flight services for the benefit of people from both sides.

Chopra, who takes part in the Canton Fair every year, said direct flight services would cut out the unnecessary waste of time, reduce travel expenses and ease the ordeal faced by Indians at transit airports.

Sunil Kumar, who does business in Yiwu city of China's Zhejiang province, said direct flights between the Chinese mainland and India can reduce travel time from 12 hours to six, save money and avoid hassles and delays with baggage during transit.

When asked about the lack of direct flights last week, Randhir Jaiswal, spokesman of India's Ministry of External Affairs, said "peace and tranquillity on the border are important" for the improvement of bilateral ties.

Before the pandemic, Air India, India's national carrier, used to operate four nonstop direct services a week from Shanghai to New Delhi, and onward to Mumbai.

After travel restrictions were lifted by both countries, Kumar, and about 107 traders and businesspeople were the first Indians to land in Hangzhou in August 2022. They took a charter flight from New Delhi, which was operated by China Southern Airlines.

Convenience stressed

"It will be more convenient to travel to India if there is a direct flight and we hope it will resume soon," said Robin Jiang, a Chinese national who is now based in New Delhi.

Many tourists from China are keen to visit India. The number of Chinese tourists and corporate travelers to India has reduced significantly because of the nonavailability of direct flight services between the two countries, said hotel industry analyst Ranjan Banerjee. Direct flights could give a boost to India's hotel and tourism industries, Banerjee added.

In a recent interview in Dubai, Pieter Elbers, CEO of India's largest airline IndiGo, said, "When the time is right and the governments (of both countries) come to a mutual understanding of how to move forward, we'll assess the market."

Author: APARAJIT CHAKRABORTY  Editor: Ye Lijiao