Emirates, Flydubai look to expand capacity on flights to India

Emirates and Flydubai chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum says UAE and Indian carriers 'need' changes to a bilateral air traffic quota agreement
Emirates, Flydubai look to expand capacity on flights to India
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Wed 01 May 2019 05:00 PM

Both Flydubai and Emirates hope to expand passenger capacity on flights to India, which are currently limited by a bilateral air traffic quota agreement.

The agreement allows airlines from both sides to operate 65,000 seats per week. Efforts to increase the quota by 50,000 seats have so far been unsuccessful.

 “We’re very much governed by traffic rights. India represents 2 or 3 percent of our capacity, when it should be 20 percent,” Flydubai CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith told Arabian Business in an interview. “We don’t have more seats to fly to India.”

“If the authorities give us more seats, we’ll definitely grow there,” he added. “But in the foreseeable future, because there is no agreement yet between the two governments, we’re not growing there.”

Speaking to reporters at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Emirates and Flydubai chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said there “is room to grow the capacity” between the Dubai and India.

“There’s still nothing firm as yet, but we need it, and the Indian carriers need it,” he said. “We recently signed the codeshare agreement with SpiceJet, and that’s good. But still, we need more seats.”

Sheikh Ahmed said he “doesn’t know” when the issue might be resolved.

“I want it tomorrow,” he added. “But there is nothing definite.”  

Expanding codeshare agreement

In the meantime, Ghaith said that an increasing number of passengers will benefit from the existing code-share agreement with fellow Dubai airline Emirates.

“With Emirates, we’ll continue to grow as far as the number of passengers we’re actually flying [on codeshare flights],” he said. “The more time that passes by, the more that will continue to grow.”

As part of the agreement, Ghaith said that the airline “will continue to nurture opportunities” to expand capacity and additional routes to flights operating to Africa, Europe and the Far East.

In a February interview with local radio station DubaiEye, Ghaith said that he is confident that the Dubai carrier will return to profit this year after rising fuel costs saw it report a $43.5 million annual loss for 2018.

“That is what our plans are, and we’re on plan,” he said on Wednesday. “Of course, anything can change, but we’re still very confident of that.”

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