Jet Airways is likely to get permission to begin its Mumbai-Shanghai-San Francisco daily flight with the Indian government clearing the proposal of China's Great Wall cargo airline to fly to Mumbai and Chennai.
"I am hopeful and optimistic that the proposal would be now cleared," Commerce and Industry Ministry Kamal Nath told journalists in the presence of Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal after the India-China Trade and Investment Summit at the China World Hotel.
If this happens, Jet would become the first non-Chinese airline to use a Chinese hub as a transit to a third country. Jet had been keen to make Shanghai its hub for operations in the Asia-Pacific region just as it has made Brussels its European hub.
Goyal told IANS that the airline hopes to start flights to Shanghai from New Delhi in the near future as well to take advantage of the growing traffic between the two countries.
Under the air services agreement between the countries, each country's airlines can run 42 flights a week. But while three Chinese airlines run 18 flights a week, India is just able to utilize four of the slots with Air India flying Mumbai-Shanghai four times a week.
The government had been sitting over the proposal of Great Wall airline after it was blacklisted by the US for allegedly transshipping nuclear material to Iran. The Indian government said it could fly to New Delhi but not to Mumbai or Chennai that had nuclear establishments close by.
In retaliation, the Chinese government refused to give permission to Jet to fly to China, saying the original agreement was for Great Wall airline to fly to Mumbai and Chennai.
With both governments deciding to give a push to greater people-to-people ties, flying between India and China is set to become easier.