Delhi-Moscow flight can boost tourism, business

Air IndiaThe resumption of a direct Air India flight between New Delhi and Moscow, after a gap of 15 years, is poised to enhance business and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

The Indian state-run carrier deployed a B787 Dreamliner aircraft for the Delhi-Moscow-Delhi sector on July 18. Increased connectivity with Russia has been a priority for Air India, which is also looking at new avenues for direct linkages with other Russian cities.

The announcement to resume the direct flight is expected to boost tourism between the two countries. Moscow is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and has seen an increase in tourists coming from India.  According to recent reports, the number of Indian tourists that visited Russia in the first quarter of the 2014 grew by 13 percent.

Likewise, India is a favoured destination for Russians, who are attracted by the rich cultural milieu of India.

The traffic between the two countries is about 10,000 people every month; this includes government officials and over 1,000 Indian students in Russia.

India and Russia have developed “special and privileged partnership,” signifying the importance both countries attach to each other in their foreign policy calculus. Russia is top arms supplier to India, accounting for over 60 per cent of New Delhi’s military hardware imports.

While the two countries enjoy robust diplomatic and strategic ties, the economic and people-to-people relationship have not kept pace.  The resumption of the direct flight between Delhi and Moscow is a small but significant step in addressing this deficit, and should be followed by a sustained expansion of direct air links between leading cities of the two countries.

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