Technical issues snag Jet Airways’ Mumbai-Shanghai flight


New Delhi : China has no “in-principle objection” to give clearance to Jet Airways to operate Mumbai-Shanghai-San Francisco flight, but certain technical issues need to be first resolved, Chinese ambassador to India Zhang Yan said here Wednesday.

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“There are some technical issues and we hope they can be addressed soon,” Zhang told reporters.

“There has been some progress and we hope there will be more progress. It will depend on the progress of the talks between the two sides,” the Chinese envoy said when asked whether there was a timeline to resolve these issues standing in the way of clearance to Jet Airways.

“The governments of the two countries are competent authorities to discuss it. Both sides attach great importance to strengthening their economic ties and cooperation in the area of civil aviation,” he underlined.

He, however, skirted a question on whether China had any objection to India building infrastructure projects in Arunanchal Pradesh, which were announced during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the northeastern state.

Beijing had protested against Manmohan Singh’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, claiming that it was a disputed area.

Predictably, India has been quick to counter by saying the prime minister has the right to visit any part of India.

During the January visit of Manmohan Singh to Beijing, India and China agreed to restrict the right of one carrier from each country to fly to three regions beyond the two countries.

Officials of the two sides are planning to meet next month to resolve issues relating to the fifth freedom rights, as Beijing first wants to reach an agreement on the three specific regions to which carriers from the two countries can fly from each other’s territory.

But the delay in Chinese clearance has caused some anxiety in South Block, as India was prompt in allowing Chinese cargo carrier Great Wall Airlines to fly to Mumbai and Chennai despite security concerns by the National Security Council Secretariat and other agencies.

In return, China was expected to give a clearance to Jet Airways for flying to Shanghai and beyond.

The quid pro quo deal was hailed as a showpiece of rapidly burgeoning business ties between the two countries during Manmohan Singh’s visit.

Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal was part of the high-level business delegation that accompanied the prime minister.

In fact, the deal was announced by India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath after the business summit between the countries.

Jet Airways is confident that these issues will be resolved soon.

“We are not unduly worried. But we hope that we get the clearance fast,” an official of Jet Airways told IANS recently, while admitting that issues relating to the question of beyond fifth freedom rights in the air bilateral services agreement needs to be resolved.

“It’s a matter between India and China. The Indian government has already approved it. We are waiting for the permission from China,” said an official of Jet Airways, who did not wish to be named.