Airlines,including Air India,and airport operators have opposed Jet Airways request for a four-fold increase in its weekly entitlements between India and Abu Dhabi.
Senior civil aviation ministry officials say that the airlines have suggested that the maximum increase should not be more than twice the current entitlements. They registered their opinion in a consultation meeting held in the civil aviation ministry this week.
The issue was also discussed in the inter-ministerial group (IMG) meeting held today. The IMG meeting on bilateral is essentially held for a mandate to proceed on bilateral talks a particular country,which they have given, said a senior ministry official.
The civil aviation ministry,which is set to start bilateral talks with Abu Dhabi next week,has received requests from Indian carriers for an increase in total weekly seats between India and Abu Dhabi by 54,500 seats.
Of the total,Jet Airways has asked for an increase in entitlements between India and Abu Dhabi sector by 42,000 seats. Its state-owned competitor has asked for an increase by 2,500 weekly seats,IndiGo and SpiceJet has asked for 4,000 and 5,000 weekly seats,respectively.
Jet Airways has after a comprehensive assessment applied for the grant of additional capacity entitlements to increase services to Abu Dhabi. The airline has a network strategy and a fleet induction plan to support this growth. The expansion is intended to provide wider consumer choice by connecting 23 cities to the international market, said a spokesperson of the airline.
This huge demand for increase in seats by Jet Airways is being seen a precursor to its proposed deal with Etihad.
Under the current bilateral rights agreement between India and Abu Dhabi,Indian carriers have 13,330 seats available per week and use 12,650 of them. Jet Airways is estimated to account for roughly 30 per cent of these numbers.
The carrier is expected to sell a 24 per cent stake for around Rs 1,600 crore to Etihad,which will give Jet access to Etihads network and also cheaper aviation turbine fuel.
The airport operators are opposed to the request as a greater share for Abu Dhabi,would make it difficult for the development of hubs.
No airport in the country has been able to develop itself successfully as a hub so far.