India weighs option to unify Dubai, Abu Dhabi air service pacts

If cleared, the proposal will allow more flexibility to Indian and UAE airlines
India weighs option to unify Dubai, Abu Dhabi air service pacts
(Getty Images)
By Parag Deulgaonkar
Tue 02 May 2017 10:53 AM

The Indian government is looking at a unified air service pact with the UAE instead of the current separate agreements with each emirate.

At present, the UAE is the only country where India has agreements with individual emirates -- such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah -- as opposed to a unified bilateral agreement with other countries that determines passenger seats to each country as well as number of cities their airlines are allowed to fly to.

According to the Times of India, union minister of state for civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha will discuss the issue of a unified agreement with Indian carriers on Thursday followed by meetings with such stakeholders as the ministry of external affairs.

The newspaper also quoted an unnamed government official as saying: “We are investing billions of dollars on Indian airports and must have a strategic policy that allows our airlines to directly take the traffic to and from India like Lufthansa does in Germany; BA in London; Singapore Airlines in Singapore and so on.

“For Indian airports to become hub, we need the right policy for bilateral. Why should traffic meant to and from India fill up nearby hubs abroad for taking transit flights from there? Our airlines must increasingly do that job with the help of right policies.”

Meanwhile, the Economic Times reported that India’s bilateral air traffic rights with the UAE are higher than its combined rights with all of Europe and several times higher than Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The daily said if the proposal is cleared, the new agreement will give more room and flexibility to carriers in India and the UAE in their operations between the countries.

Therefore, an Indian airline using only half of its flight rights to Sharjah will be able to use the remaining capacity to Dubai, while carriers from Sharjah will not have to fly Indians only to its base, but can take them to other emirates, it added.

Carriers from India and the UAE fly almost 134,441 aircraft seats a week, each way with 65,200 seats for Dubai, 50,000 seats for Abu Dhabi, 17,841 seats for Sharjah and 1,400 seats for Ras Al Khaimah.

Indian and UAE carriers have 35,432 and 15,055 unused seats, respectively, which they will be able to allocate if the new proposal is cleared.

Arabian Business has approached UAE General Civil Aviation Authority for comments.

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