Extra flights to Dubai, Sharjah potential

NEW DELHI: Air connectivity between India and Dubai and could soon improve with flyers going to get choice of more flights and increased capacity leading to lower fares. The government is going to take a call on initiating talks to hike bilaterals with countries where airlines of both sides have utilised over 80% of existing flying rights.

“We are soon going to decide on the issue of holding negotiations with countries where 80% of existing bilaterals have been utilised by their airlines and ours,” aviation secretary R N Choubey told TOI. Airlines of India and Dubai are utilising 100% of the 66,500 weekly seats allowed to each side at present. Airline of Sharjah have utilised 100% of their flying rights to India (18,144 weekly seats) while Indian carriers are operating 94% of their rights.

has used up all its rights to India (24,655 weekly seats) and Indian carriers are at 74% of their bileterals to Doha. Singapore is also soon going to be on this list with Indian carriers going to use over 80% of their flying rights to the prosperous island nation.

All these areas, especially Dubai, have been demanding enhancement of flying rights for some years now. While the Congress-led UPA was very liberal with giving bilaterals, the Modi government has been very conservative till now. Some countries like Qatar are learnt to be upset at not being more flying rights to India. India had earlier indicated that it will insist its airlines get ‘good’ slots at the slot-constrained Dubai airport while negiotating more bilaterals with the Emirate.

Now, however, Indian airlines have been asking to mount more flights to these high demand destinations. Also, JV Vistara is now eligible to start international flights after having a fleet of 20 planes and Tata-AirAsia low cost JV will achieve this milestone shortly. Many of the countries and region where bilaterals have been exhausted are in the range of these two airlines’ Airbus A-320 planes where they would like to go once they start overseas flights.

According to aviation constancy CAPA, Indian entitlements are fully utilized to Saudia. Bilaterals with UAE and Singapore are closer to the 80% threshold. Oman and Thailand are next in line to reach 80% threshold soon.

“We need to strike a balance between ring fencing Indian carriers and achieving economic and connectivity missions. We must focus on providing Indian carriers with the right ecosystem for investing in long haul connectivity… but creating systemic constraints to international capacity by design will hurt India’s economy significantly. We need to ensure our bilateral regime opening up is not directed to one region alone but is well spread across markets,” CAPA India head said.

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