Indian airlines can now operate flights to Myanmar as the country has granted traffic rights to India-based carriers paving the way for air connectivity between the nations. "Yes, we (Indian airlines) got the fifth freedom rights which is a major concession," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here.
The fifth freedom rights allow an airline carry revenue traffic between countries as a part of services connecting the airline's own country. At present, there is no direct air connectivity between India and Myanmar. Indian private carrier SpiceJet has expressed interest to fly from Delhi to Dhaka, continuing on to Yangon.
"SpiceJet has appiled to fly on this route under the fifth freedom rights," an official said adding the regulatory approval is awaited for the same. During his visit to Myanmar, Sharma held bilateral meetings with various ministers including Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, Commerce Minister U Win Myint, Energy Minister U Than Htay and Communications and IT Minister U Myat Hein and discussed ways to strengthen the political, economic and cultural ties between the two nations.
Besides, India has asked Myanmar to seriously consider the bids of Indian telecom companies like Bharti Airtel for expanding telephone services in its nation. In a meeting with Hein, Sharma discussed the selection process for telecom companies which is going on in Myanmar. The Myanmar government had called for bids for two telecom licences and shortlisted 12 applicants.
Bharti Airtel has submitted its final bid for telecom licence in the country. Other Indian companies which are upbeat on business prospects in resource-rich Myanmar include few oil firms --ONGC Videsh Ltd and Oil India, besides banks like SBI and Bank of India Sharma has said that over the next few years, "We will see an investment of around USD 2.6 billion from India to Myanmar." India is the tenth largest investor in Myanmar with an investment estimated at USD 273.5 million.
Indian companies like Tata Motors, Essar Energy, Escorts, Sonalika Tractors, Zydus Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy and Cadila Healthcare already have their presence in Myanmar.