Indian car­ri­ers eye fly­ing slots of Qatar Air­ways at Dubai

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - NIRBHAY KUMAR New Delhi

INDIAN car­ri­ers, hun­gry for ex­pand­ing their op­er­a­tions to Dubai, are eye­ing fly­ing slots of Qatar Air­ways that re­main unutilised after Saudi Ara­bia, UAE and other Gulf na­tions broke diplo­matic re­la­tions and cut all land, sea and air links with Qatar.

Some Indian car­ri­ers have pushed the case for hold­ing bi­lat­eral talks with Dubai and in­crease seat quota from each side.

“Dubai avi­a­tion au­thor­i­ties have as­sured slots to Indian car­ri­ers. Get­ting slots at Dubai air­port was the main is­sue flagged by Indian car­ri­ers. But now after the as­sur­ance, it does not seem to be a prob­lem. The two sides can now hold ne­go­ti­a­tions for bi­lat­eral seat quota,” a source said.

With Emi­rates and fly­dubai ex­haust­ing all the seats avail­able to them, Dubai has been press­ing In­dia for bi­lat­er­ally in­crease the seats and fre­quency. It had ear­lier sought to in­crease the quota by 50,000 seats a week. The des­ig­nated car­ri­ers from the two sides at present op­er­ate 65,500 seats a week con­nect­ing var­i­ous Indian cities with Dubai.

Indian car­ri­ers too have used all the rights al­lo­cated to them and wanted the quota to go up but they linked it with Dubai pro­vid­ing more slots. While get­ting a slot at the Dubai air­port was very dif­fi­cult a few months back, it is pos­si­ble to get one now after Qatar Air­ways stopped op­er­a­tions to the city-state.

In a sud­den move, some of the key Arab na­tions like Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) and Ye­men had last June an­nounced to snap their diplo­matic ties with Qatar. This was fol­lowed by the UAE an­nounc­ing to sus­pend flights op­er­ated by its car­rier Eti­had Air­ways, Emi­rates and fly­dubai to Qatar. Saudi Ara­bia also banned Qatar Air­ways from fly­ing in its airspace.

The ties are yet to get nor­mal and trans­port links re-stored.

Be­sides direct traf­fic, most of the Gulf and West Asian car­ri­ers use In­dia as a source mar­ket to feed their flights to Europe and North Amer­ica us­ing their hubs. As per in­dus­try es­ti­mate, Indian pas­sen­gers ac­count for Gulf car­ri­ers’ 30 per cent traf­fic to the US.

Among ma­jor car­ri­ers fly­ing in­ter­na­tional traf­fic to and from In­dia, Dubai’s Emi­rates rank third with 9.5 per cent mar­ket share fol­low­ing Air In­dia and Jet Air­ways closely, as per the lat­est data com­piled by Indian avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tor DGCA.

As many as 95 car­ri­ers -5 Indian and 90 for­eign car­ri­ers -- cur­rently con­nect In­dia pro­vid­ing air con­nec­tiv­ity with 58 coun­tries through more than 300 routes.

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