Emirates head says India's protectionism will harm its economy
AVIATION & AIRPORTS

Emirates head says India's protectionism will harm its economy

According to Emirates President Tim Clark, Indian travellers may have fewer options on international flights as New Delhi aims to expand the reach of its own carriers outside domestic airspace by restricting the number of seats available on foreign airlines in one of the largest outbound travel markets globally. The biggest international airline that flies into India is Emirates.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is expected to win a five-year term in office, has blocked foreign airlines' ability to expand, especially those from the Middle East. This is meant to incentivize these carriers to operate wide-body aircraft and offer direct flights to North America and Europe.. Clark stated on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Dubai that he understood the Indian government was considering the policy with the intention of safeguarding their own carriers, particularly by providing some leeway to Air India, which had been privatized. However, he expressed his belief that it would not be effective in the long term and would have adverse effects on their economy.

The last time flying rights to Dubai were increased was in 2014. The agreements that were made at the time permit Emirates to run 66,284 seats in India. But since then, traffic between India and Dubai has increased dramatically, and carriers on both sides have used up all of their allotted space. According to official sources, the UAE has requested that the Indian government supply an additional 50,000 seats per week, and the incoming administration will decide how to proceed with this request. According to travel data analytics company OAG, the Delhi-Dubai route is among the busiest in the world.

Air India, which is attempting to boost business on routes from India following the Tata group's purchase, has backed the government's protectionist decision. In 2023, the airline placed an order for 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, but only 70 of those are widebody planes suited to fly transcontinental routes. India's largest domestic carrier, IndiGo, has also made a change in business strategy and ordered 30 Airbus A350 aircraft to venture into long haul travel.

An executive of a private airport conveyed Clark's viewpoint, stating that there was no justification for India to adopt a protectionist stance, given the substantial demand both to and from the country. They pointed out that airports such as those in Hyderabad and Bengaluru had made significant investments and expanded their terminals. The executive noted that, apart from Air India, Indian carriers were still not adequately equipped to initiate more international flights. They suggested that the government should consider granting ad hoc bilateral rights to foreign airlines until Indian carriers were prepared. Otherwise, the executive warned, the additional capacity would remain unused, resulting in a loss of business.

According to Emirates President Tim Clark, Indian travellers may have fewer options on international flights as New Delhi aims to expand the reach of its own carriers outside domestic airspace by restricting the number of seats available on foreign airlines in one of the largest outbound travel markets globally. The biggest international airline that flies into India is Emirates. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is expected to win a five-year term in office, has blocked foreign airlines' ability to expand, especially those from the Middle East. This is meant to incentivize these carriers to operate wide-body aircraft and offer direct flights to North America and Europe.. Clark stated on the sidelines of the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Dubai that he understood the Indian government was considering the policy with the intention of safeguarding their own carriers, particularly by providing some leeway to Air India, which had been privatized. However, he expressed his belief that it would not be effective in the long term and would have adverse effects on their economy. The last time flying rights to Dubai were increased was in 2014. The agreements that were made at the time permit Emirates to run 66,284 seats in India. But since then, traffic between India and Dubai has increased dramatically, and carriers on both sides have used up all of their allotted space. According to official sources, the UAE has requested that the Indian government supply an additional 50,000 seats per week, and the incoming administration will decide how to proceed with this request. According to travel data analytics company OAG, the Delhi-Dubai route is among the busiest in the world. Air India, which is attempting to boost business on routes from India following the Tata group's purchase, has backed the government's protectionist decision. In 2023, the airline placed an order for 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, but only 70 of those are widebody planes suited to fly transcontinental routes. India's largest domestic carrier, IndiGo, has also made a change in business strategy and ordered 30 Airbus A350 aircraft to venture into long haul travel. An executive of a private airport conveyed Clark's viewpoint, stating that there was no justification for India to adopt a protectionist stance, given the substantial demand both to and from the country. They pointed out that airports such as those in Hyderabad and Bengaluru had made significant investments and expanded their terminals. The executive noted that, apart from Air India, Indian carriers were still not adequately equipped to initiate more international flights. They suggested that the government should consider granting ad hoc bilateral rights to foreign airlines until Indian carriers were prepared. Otherwise, the executive warned, the additional capacity would remain unused, resulting in a loss of business.

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