NEW DELHI Indian conglomerate Tata Sons, part-owner of airline Vistara, said on Wednesday that a rule restricting new carriers from flying overseas should be scrapped because it gives an unfair advantage to foreign airlines that now dominate international air travel.
Under the government's so-called "5/20 rule", Indian airlines must be operational for five years and possess 20 aircraft before they can fly abroad.
The controversial rule, which the government is reviewing, has split Indian airlines between older carriers that can fly abroad and newer entrants like Tata's Vistara, which launched in 2015, that want to tap into lucrative overseas routes but cannot.
Tata said the rule had allowed foreign airlines, led by Gulf carriers like Etihad and Emirates, to capture 70 percent of international traffic.
"The rule is discriminatory to Indian airlines as foreign airlines that do not meet these criteria are allowed to operate in Indian skies, but Indian airlines cannot enjoy reciprocal rights," Tata said in a statement.
Vistara is a joint-venture between Tata and Singapore Airlines. Other newer entrants into India's fast-growing aviation market include AirAsia India, part of Malaysia-based AirAsia, which also opposes the rule.
India's bigger carriers include InterGlobe Aviation's IndiGo, Jet Airways and Air India.
(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)
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