India’s civil aviation authorities will grip talks with their counterparts in Dubai to increase bilateral airline seat entitlements due to an increased demand, top civil aviation ministry officials said.
The Union Civil Aviation Ministry has received a fresh request from the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) to increase the entitlements as airlines of both the countries have exhausted the current flying capacity. The move will allow passengers with more options to fly to the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates.
Countries sign air service agreement during bilateral negotiations to decide the number of flights airlines can fly into each other’s country. Airlines from Dubai and India are entitled to fly 65,200 seats from each side at present. The bilateral agreement had further given flexibility to the airlines to fly two per cent additional seats to match their seat configurations taking the total entitlement to 66,504 seats, a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation official said.
As of July this year, while airlines from Dubai – Emirates and flydubai and Dubai Aviation Corporation– offered 66,504 seats, Indian carriers – IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Air India – flew 65,272 seats.
There has been a sharp increase in seat entitlements to Dubai – from 10,400 seats in 2003-04 to 65,200 seats till date. The previous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance air services between India and Dubai was signed in February 2014.
Dubai accounts for a huge chunk of international passengers that fly in and out of India from several airports such as Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Madurai and Trivandrum. In January-March this year, 27.58 lakh passengers flew between India and Dubai, out of the total 1.32 crore international passengers who travelled in and out of the country, DGCA data showed. In fact, Dubai is the only country where the Indian carriers have fully utilised their seat entitlements as of July this year.
Earlier this year, Dubai had requested for an increase of 50,000 seats but the request was put down by the Indian authorities as the Indian carriers had not utilised their flying capacity by then.
“Our carriers have now utilised the seat entitlements and we will soon hold bilateral agreement talks with Dubai,” said a senior civil aviation ministry official.
In December last year, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), which represents top private airlines IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and GoAir, had written to the government raising concerns over the availability of “commercially and operationally” feasible slots for them at the Dubai airport. Minister of State for Civil Aviation said the government had taken up the issue with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authorities.