The UAE has stepped up pressure on the Indian government to increase seats between the two countries by another 50,000 per week, a development that has the potential to deal a lethal blow to airlines in India.
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority director-general Mohammed A Ahli has, in a letter to Union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, asked India to allow Amritsar, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Kannur, Goa, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Pune to become additional points of call for Dubai carriers. If approved, these would be among the most lucrative routes for the UAE carriers.
Not surprisingly, the Indian carriers are vehemently opposing more seats for the Gulf airlines. The UAE’s flagship carrier, Emirates, already operates some of the most profitable routes between India and the UAE.
The airline presently operates from nine cities in India namely, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, and Thiruvananthapuram.
The UAE has been mounting pressure on the Indian government to allow more flights from there. Earlier, Emirates President Tim Clark had brushed aside opposition from Indian carriers and asked the Indian government to open up more routes.
In his letter to Scindia, Mohammed Ahli said the governments of India and UAE have taken a series of steps to further promote trade and commerce as well as cooperation in various areas, and “the Dubai-India air transport sector continues to be the cornerstone of all such businesses as well as in bringing together the people and exchange of ideas between our two nations.”
Ahli added that in light of the aforementioned, an “agreement between our two States to update the entitlements of the respective designated airlines is of vital importance”.
“As your esteemed offices will be aware, the current seat capacity of 65,200 seats was established vide the terms of the MoU between our respective Governments in 2014. In the past seven years not only has there been a very strong growth of passenger and freight between Dubai and India but also both our countries have been at the forefront of major developments in aviation – whether they be new state-of-the-art airports/terminals, new technology aircraft or other aviation-related technological advancements. With more than 1.4 million expatriate Indians in Dubai — a number that has grown steadily over the past decade years — as well as the ever-increasing trade and cultural exchanges between our two countries, we feel that the need for enhancing air connectivity between Dubai and India is stronger than ever before.”Mohammed A Ahli, Director-General, Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai
The Dubai civil aviation authority director-general requested Scindia to “consider calling for a bilateral meeting of our respective Civil Aviation Authorities to explore the possibility of enhancing capacity and services between Dubai and India further”.
He said, “We would specifically like… enhancement of bilateral capacity between Dubai – India and vice versa by an additional 50,000 seats per week in each direction” and add “Amritsar, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Kannur, Goa, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and Pune as additional points of call for Dubai carriers”.
The Dubai official also expressed a “keen interest to serve other secondary cities in India where the Airports Authority of India has recently upgraded to international standards”.
Seats are allocated between countries by giving bilateral rights that allow each other’s airlines to operate services with a specific number of seats.
(With Inputs from The New Indian Express)