Airlines Private carriers hail move to open Sri Lankan skies November 2003 289 Share India’s private domestic airlines hailed a government decision to allow them to fly to Sri Lanka, with one saying it could start operations on any South Asian route within three months. Uttam Kumar Bose, chief of private domestic carrier Air Sahara, said his airline was increasing its fleet size to be in a position to fly to neighbouring South Asian countries.“We have always been very keen to expand our operations beyond Indian shores. We can be ready to fly to overseas destinations within three months of getting government clearance,” said Bose. “Air Sahara will deploy seven more planes by March 2004 taking our fleet size to 24,” he added.India yesterday offered “unlimited access” for Sri Lankan civilian aircraft to 18 Indian tourist spots in addition to daily flights from Colombo to the Indian cities of Bombay, Bangalore, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Madras and New Delhi. New Delhi also said in a joint statement it would encourage Indian private carriers to fly to Sri Lanka.“We have been waiting for the green light to operate flights on international routes. It took decades for the government of India to allow private firms in the domestic avaition sector,” said an official in Jet Airways.“Now we have finally got the go-ahead to fly to Sri Lanka. It is a small, but significant step. It is a beginning,” he added.