MUMBAI: Chinese airlines are looking to increase their services to India, the fastest growing aviation market in the world, a senior government official said today.
Carriers from both sides are keen to operate more flights into each other's territory amid the thaw in the Indo-China ties, particularly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an informal summit last month, according to a source.
At present, five Chinese carriers together operate 42 weekly services to three Indian cities -- Delhi, Mumbai nd Kolkata -- from five cities in China.
When asked whether Chinese carriers have expressed interest to expanding their operations in India, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey replied in the affirmative and said the ministry would take a call on it.
"But (before taking a call), we will keep in mind that the interest of our airlines should be protected," he told PTI.
According to the source, budget carriers -- IndiGo and SpiceJet -- whose international operations is currently confined to the Gulf and South-East Asia, have plans to spread wings to China.
While Choubey confirmed that some of the domestic carriers have plans to expand their international route network to China, he declined to share their names.
Air China, China Southern, China Eastern, China Airlines and Shangdong Airlines currently flies to India with the China Southern operating the maximum 14 flight per week of the total 42 seats a-week allocated to them.
Apart from state-owned Air India, Naresh Goyal-promoted Jet Airways is the other carrier flying to China from India through itscode share partner China Eastern Airlines.