Air India has expressed concern over the recent increase in the bilateral seat allocation for Abu Dhabi and Dubai in a presentation to the new aviation minister on Tuesday, said officials with the airline.
“We have also raised our concerns about the launch of two new airlines that will soon start flying in the country,” the official said. The bilateral seat entitlements between India and Abu Dhabi have gone up four-fold to 11,000 a week in a decision taken last April. Air India had, during the consultation process, opposed the increase in entitlements saying that it would further complicate the process of a turnaround in its fortunes.
On April 24 2013, India and Abu Dhabi increased their weekly seat entitlements from 13,600 seats to 50,270 seats, which coincided with Jet Airways announcing the sale of 24 per cent stake in the carrier to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad.
Under the air services pact between India and Abu Dhabi, the increase in entitlements is to be implemented over three years — 11,000 seats per week in 2013 (already implemented), 12,800 seats per week up to the winter schedule of 2014 and 12,870 seats per week up to the winter schedule of 2015.
Following the deal, Jet Airways plans to connect 23 destinations in India to the world via Abu Dhabi and would require these higher entitlements to increase connectivity between the two countries.
Last May, the increase in entitlements were also sent to the Cabinet for ‘post-facto approval’ on the advice of the Prime Ministers’ Office.
In February this year, bilateral weekly seat entitlements between India and Dubai were also increased by 11,000 from the current 54,200 seats between the two countries.
The increase is to be implemented in three phases — 5,500 seats in the summer schedule (in process), another 3,300 more by the winter schedule and rest 2,200 by next summer. Air India has also raised concerns over the two new airlines — AirAsia India and Tata-SIA — that will be launched soon.
While AirAsia India will be launched on June 12, Tata-SIA is slated to launch operations by the year end. Both the airlines have been formed with international carriers owning 49 per cent in both the companies and been opposed by all other Indian carriers.