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Dubai’s India airline seat addition bid hits resistance

Emirates 777-300ER Air to AirConcerns from Indian carriers on the quantum of increase in bilateral seat entitlements requested by Dubai may result in the emirate getting only half of its initial request of enhancing weekly entitlements by 20,000 seats. the Economic Times reported.

A top official of the civil aviation ministry told ET that officials of various ministries met as part of an Inter Ministerial Group on Monday where a “couple” of airlines including Air India had raised concerns against Dubai’s request of enhancing bilateral seat entitlements by 20,000 seats per week.

It was decided that the actual increase should only be around 10,000 seats per week. The final number will be decided after the meeting with Dubai officials.” The official did not reveal the name of the second airline which raised objections as it was competitive information.

“There will be no further meeting of the IMG on the issue as they have agreed on an increase but now the airlines concerns will be addressed in the discussions with Dubai,” the official further added. As per a senior Air India official, giving more seats to Dubai would result in additional international traffic being diverted to Emirates.

“Giving more seats to Dubai would detrimental to our business as we are planning to offer more point to point routes and also after joining Star Alliance, our network through codeshares will greatly increase,” said the Air India official. “As such we don’t see the need for additional seats being given to Dubai especially in the aftermath of the entitlement increase with Abu Dhabi.”

Currently, the bilateral seat entitlements between India and Dubai are at 54,200 seats per week of which Emirates and flydubai utilise almost the entire entitlement. Dubai had asked for an increase by 20,000 seats per week in late 2012. However, at that time Indian carriers were yet to fully utilise their entitlements.

Since then, Indian carriers have started new flights to Dubai and as of the Winter Schedule they were utilising over 80 per cent of the entitlements. By Summer 2014, this number is set to go up to 95 per cent which, according to the aviation ministry official, is what promoted the government to consider the request for an increase.
The bilaterals with Dubai would need to be enhanced soon as the model code of conduct before the General Elections 2014 will kick in soon.

If delayed, the government may have to approach the Election Commission for permission before being able to enhance the agreement. Enhancing bilateral seat entitlements with Dubai has also faced political opposition already. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Gurudas Dasgupta wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office saying that the increase will “bleed” domestic airlines. (With The Economic Times)