Indian airlines are considering establishing hubs at the new Al Maktoum Airport at Dubai World Central, Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has revealed.
Despite protectionist policies in the Asian nation, Indian carriers claimed they were so constrained by regulation and lack of space they were looking for additional cities to operate from, Clark said during a press conference in the US to mark his airline’s launch of flights to Boston.
“Already the Indian carriers in the latest round of talks expressed an interest in setting up hubs in Dubai,” he said.
“We can’t accommodate them in DIA [Dubai International Airport], we said, but you can go to DWC.
“Imagine an Indian carrier like Indigo or Jet or whatever [with] 50 aircraft on the ground. They feel so constrained in their own field of operations that they look at somewhere like Dubai, which is unconstrained. Just don’t break the law and fly safely etcetera, and off you go.
“And that’s on the table for them.”
Tight Indian regulations also have turned Clark off investing in the country’s aviation industry, unlike its rival Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which last year bought a 28 percent stake in Jet Airways.
The deal was the first foreign investment in the Indian aviation industry’s history and involved several layers of regulatory approval amid much opposition.
Clark said Emirates was unlikely to boost seats to India based on the government’s refusal to increase landing rights.
“The Indian government calls the shots on that,” he said.
“They have given us 11,000 seats for Dubai that has to be shared between flydubai and Emirates. We had asked for 30,000 seats for starters and multiple points in India, in addition to what we have at the moment.
“We didn’t get any of those. There have been no [new] seats since May 2008.
“We are running at 90 percent capacity right now. It is such a pity.”
DWC, which will be the largest airport in the world when it is completed, started commercial flights in October last year and has only a handful of low-cost airlines based there, while some GCC carriers are now operating flights to both DWC and DIA.
If any Indian carrier established a hub there it would be the first of any airline. Emirates is not expected to move to the new airport until well into the next decade, when capacity is nearer the expected 160m passengers a year.