India limits passengers on Abu Dhabi airlines
By: Ruchi Shroff
The Indian civil aviation ministry has placed a cap on the number of flights airlines from Abu Dhabi can operate into the country, Business Standard has reported.
Etihad Airways, which recently acquires a 24% stake in Jet Airways, can fly 3,300 passengers a week out of Delhi and Mumbai on two flights a day in a bid to prevent losses for airport operators.
"We have made provisions to address the concerns of airlines and airport operators in India. Etihad wanted the limit on the number of flights they can operate between any airport in the country and Abu Dhabi be waived off but we ensured the limit remains on two flights a day from Delhi and Mumbai and one daily flight from any other airport in the country,” said a ministry official. “The cap on frequency is to ensure they do not operate smaller aircraft and save on landing charge, thus leading to losses for our airport operators.” He added the landing charges for the 180-seater Airbus 320 is around Rs 25,000, compared to Rs 1,25,000 for the medium-haul Airbus 330.
India has reportedly quadrupled the bilateral agreements with Abu Dhabi from 13,300 seats a week to 49,970 seats. Increasing the bilateral entitlements to Abu Dhabi by 36,670 seats was opposed by the airlines as well as airport operators in India. Jet had asked for 42,000 seats between India and Abu Dhabi. The airline plans to connect 23 destinations in the country to the world through Abu Dhabi, which will become its hub. All other airlines had asked for an increase of 12,500 seats between the two sectors.
In the bilateral negotiations held earlier this week, India and Abu Dhabi agreed to allocate an additional entitlement of 36,670 seats a week spread over a period of three years. Of the total entitlement, 11,000 seats a week will be allocated this year, 12,800 seats per week will be added up to October 2014, and the remaining capacity of 12,870 seats per week will be added up to October 2015. Indian carriers have utilised over 80% of the total bilateral entitlements to West Asia. The utilisation by West Asian carriers stands at over 90%.