By James Mathew
India's civil aviation ministry to hold further discussions with the UAE authorities early next month
India has deferred a decision on increasing air seat capacity with UAE under the bilateral air services pact, as it prepares to hold further discussions with all stakeholders involved.
Federal civil aviation ministry sources told Arabian Business that the ministry will schedule another meeting with the UAE civil aviation authorities early next month for further discussions.
The respective Indian and UAE authortities held a meeting last Wednesday to discuss possible expansion of the air seat capacity and flying rights between the two countries under the bilateral treaty.
“There was no decision [on expanding bilateral rights on seat capacity or flying rights] at the meeting. There will be another meeting with UAE on this shortly,” Pradeep Singh Kharola , Secretary, federal ministry of civil aviation, told Arabian Business.
While Kharola did not specify the date for the next meeting with UAE aviation authorities, ministry sources indicated that it is likely to be held within the first two weeks of November.
Under the existing bilateral rights, carriers from India and the UAE can fly a total of 134,441 aircraft seats a week, each way.
The UAE has been pressing for an expansion of bilateral capacities for flights and weekly airline seats for a long time now.
Indian airlines, however, have so far not been so keen, mainly due to fears that UAE-based carriers will gain most from more capacity as they could manage to get prime slots in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other airports in the UAE.
Aviation industry sources said the situation, however, may have changed slightly after Indian budget carrier SpiceJet’s decision to set up an international hub in Ras Al Khaimah.
“SpiceJet may now want to increase its flights to Ras Al Khaimah and could be hamstringed now as the bilateral capacity between UAE and India is almost fully exhausted,” an industry analyst, who did not want to be identified, told Arabian Business.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are two major transit points for millions of Indian international travellers to destinations in Europe and US.
Souces said SpiceJet will be looking to make Ras Al Khaimah as another major transit point for Indian travellers for their onward journey to Europe and the US.
SpiceJet has also announced plans for starting a new airline from Ras Al Khaimah with an eye to connect to various destinations in Eastern and Western Europe.