India to mull increase in Qatar airline seats

Qatar reportedly keen to increase weekly quota to over 72,000 seats from current 24,800
By Andy Sambidge
Sun 01 Dec 2013 10:45 AM

India is reportedly poised to increase Qatar Airways' entitlement of airline seats for travel from Doha to the South Asian country.

Qatar is said to have sought to increase its weekly quota of seats to 72,600 from the current 24,800, which was nearly exhausted.

"Qatar would be the next country with whom we will revise the bilateral air service agreement," a senior official of the civil aviation ministry said in comments published in Indian daily Economic Times.

"We are just negotiating the final number for the enhancement in weekly seats, and it should be done soon."

The unnamed official did not give a timeline for the pact, the newspaper added.

Qatar Airways is the fifth largest carrier of India's international traffic, with nearly four percent share of the 45 million passengers travelling to and from India in 2012-13, according to data from Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation.

The Indian official told the paper: "The demand for increase in seats with Qatar has mainly been from their side, as Qatar Airways has nearly exhausted its current entitlement, while Indian carriers only use around 10,000 weekly seats, so we will have to see what kind of an increase is actually required."

Gulf carriers are keen to tap the growing Indian travel market.

In September, it was reported that India's federal cabinet approved an accord with the UAE to nearly quadruple airline seats between the two countries over three years.

Under the bilateral agreement, designated carriers of both countries will be allowed to add 36,670 seats per week over three years to 2015, to the current entitlement of 13,600.

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