February 27, 2014 3:12:17 am
India and Dubai today agreed to increase weekly seat entitlements between the two countries by 11,000 from the current 54,200 seats. The increase will be done in three phases – 5,500 seats in the summer schedule, another 3,300 more by the winter schedule and rest 2,200 by next summer.
Total weekly seat entitlements will go up from the current 54,200 to 65,200 seats a week by the summer of 2015. The Indian Express had reported on February 21, that the increase would be in the range of 20 per cent of current entitlement. “India did not agree on giving any new destinations to carriers from Dubai. The Dubai side had asked for four new destinations,” said an official involved in the day-long negotiations held today.
Sources said that the negotiations were stuck on providing change of gauge facility for the Indian carriers at the existing Dubai airport and commitment for helping Indian airlines in getting right slots at Dubai. “The Indian side fetched both for the domestic carriers. Now, they get a change of gauge facility at Dubai and they have provided us commitment that they will help Indian carriers in getting the right slots,” said a source.
A change-of-gauge facility allows Indian carriers to shift passengers from one plane to the other allowing domestic airlines to use Dubai as a hub for its traffic headed for destinations beyond Dubai. Dubai was ready to provide change-of-gauge facility at an airport about 40 miles far from the existing airport, which was not accepted by India. The Indian side persisted on to its demand and could get their way through since the Dubai side required seats more than the Indian side. As of now, Emirates and FlyDubai have used up almost all the current entitlement but Indian airlines still have about 11,000 seats left for use.
Also, with Etihad’s expansion plan post their deal with Jet Airways, Dubai required seats to maintain Emirates top position in carrying international traffic out of India. In April 2013, India and Abu Dhabi had agreed to a four-fold increase in weekly seat entitlements on the India-Abu Dhabi sector. The increase in bilateral seat entitlements comes just before the code of conduct for General Election kicks in. Trinamool Congress member of Parliament Dinesh Trivedi has in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said this revision will only benefit Dubai-based airlines. Air India and IndiGo had also objected to an increase in seat entitlements. SpiceJet, however, had asked for 12,000 seats.
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