While disagreement rages over the text of the US-UAE aviation deal announced last week, Emirates and Etihad look set to face a new round of competition in the world’s third largest aviation economy.
US carrier Delta has said it will look to resume operations into India after “protections outlined in the agreement make it worth it,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “We can now go back into markets that we’ve been run out of.”
Citing low passenger demand, Delta ended its non-stop service between Atlanta and Mumbai in 2009 and its last flight to India via Amsterdam in March 2015. United Airlines is currently the only US carrier that flies into India.
Among operators flying to and from India, Emirates is the third largest, and largest non-Indian airline, with an 8.7 percent market share in October 2017.
Indian carriers, however, command a 64 percent share of frequencies between Dubai and India. The UAE-India circuit is also set to become the world’s most trafficked by 2030.
A scant presence in the Indian market could have more to do with India’s fast growing aviation economy. International passenger numbers are currently growing at a rate of 10 percent, while domestic passenger growth at 23 percent far outpaces a global passenger growth rates of 7.3 percent.
In terms of route growth into the US, Emirates, has denied any reports of “freezing” flights into the US via fifth freedom flights which allow an airline to stop in a second destination and carry passengers on to a third.
However, Emirates has also said “it currently has no plans to expand into the US” possibly giving other airlines an opportunity to tap into demand for trans-continental flights from India.
Singapore Airlines’ Scoot and Japan Airlines’ soon to be named budget carrier, are all planning to connect cities in the US to travellers in India via their own domestic hubs.
Last week, Iceland’s Wow! Air also announced it will fly from New Delhi to New York at fares as low as $199. Fares on the flights, scheduled to begin December 7, won’t be introductory and will allow passengers to connect faster than they would in Dubai, CEO Skuli Morgensen told Bloomberg .
“If you look at flights from India to North America, they actually go directly above Iceland,” he said.
“So Iceland is the perfect hub for India to North America traffic. It has a superior connecting time than what people currently use - London, Dubai, Frankfurt or Amsterdam.”
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