NEW DELHI: India has lodged a strong protest with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority for turning down the requests of Indian carriers for viable and feasible slots at Dubai International Airport. The Dubai authority’s move has come as a big setback for Indian carriers, leaving 13,000 unutilised seats per week.
The option for shifting of operations from Dubai International Airport to the new Dubai World Central Airport, 30 km from the city, is not commercially viable for Indian carriers, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a letter to the president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
“Designated UAE carriers such as Emirates or Fly Dubai are being given their request slots and India has always recognised their requirements and responded in a positive manner. UAE and India have strong ties in the civil aviation sector... I shall be grateful if you could look into the matter on priority and direct Dubai International Airport authorities to facilitate Indian carriers in getting commercially and operationally feasible slots,” Raju requested Al Maktoum.
Considering the traffic potential on the India Dubai sector, both sides mutually agreed in 2014 to enhance the capacity entitlements from 54,200 to 65,200 seats per week.
Dubai airport, one of the busiest in the world, is an attractive gateway for Indian carriers looking to extend their services to European countries through code share operations. Evidently, the traffic potential is huge and holds a lot of stake for several Indian carriers flying into Dubai.
Raju’s letter, sent last month, followed a request from the Federation of Indian Airlines (FAI)—an apex body of the schedules carriers in India—to intervene in the overall interest of Indian carriers. FAI has demanded that the air services agreement entered into between the ministry with airports abroad should be revisited.
Spicejet vice-president Debashish Saha said any air service agreement should be country-to-country specific and not between any particular city, as has been followed till now. “If Dubai Civil Aviation Authority could have agreement for all international airports in India, why couldn’t India have the same kind of arrangement? Our demand is that the air service agreements should be on equal terms,” he said. The agreement with Dubai authority was signed in May 2007 during UPA regime when Praful Patel was the civil aviation minister.