By Rohit Vaid
In what can be termed as government’s continuing tough stance on granting any further bilaterals to foreign airlines, the civil aviation ministry has rejected Dubai-based carrier Emirates’ demand for an additional 50,000 seats per week.
Under the India-UAE bilateral, airlines based in Dubai, can currently carry 66,000 passengers to and from Indian airports per week. Countries like Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have separate quotas. Similarly, Indian carriers can carry equal number of passengers to Dubai per week. This bilateral arrangement is a pre-2014 pact, which the current government sees as lopsided.
Confirming the rejection of additional 50,000 seats by Emirates, civil aviation minister, Jyotiraditya Scindia told Reuters, “at this point we’re not looking at increasing it.” Civil aviation secretary, Rajiv Bansal said at the ongoing CAPA summit, that all Middle East carriers have been asking for additional seats for the last several years but “we have not been giving any additional seats to any Middle East carriers.” He said that the stance is going to continue.
Sources said that the government wants that Indian carriers like Air India should order bigger aircraft and carry higher passengers rather than entering into bilaterals which are skewed against domestic carriers.
For instance, under the bilateral with UAE, India stands to lose. UAE carriers can carry passengers from airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah to Indian airports like Mumbai and Delhi, as well from here to foreign destinations via Dubai while Indian carriers can only carry passengers from India to Dubai. For carrying passengers beyond Dubai, they can’t do so from the main airport there, but from the other airport, Dubai World Centre.
Speaking at the CAPA summit, Emirates president, Tim Clarke said that the airline does not view Indian carriers as a threat. He said that Indian carriers are also being impacted due to non-enhancement of traffic rights. Clark said that India’s aviation market has a ‘great opportunity’ for future growth.
Emirates began operations to India in 1985 with scheduled services to Mumbai and Delhi. At present, the airline operates flights to over 140 destinations globally from its hub in Dubai.