Indian carriers fail to get commitment on desired slots in Dubai

NEW DELHI: In a move that could hamper prospects of any increase in flying rights between India and Dubai, the Dubai authorities have declined New Delhi’s request for commitment on providing desired slots to Indian carries at their airport.

In response to a letter by the Indian government seeking commitment on slots, Dubai has said awarding slots are the prerogative of the airport operator and not of the government.

“They have told us that there cannot be any commitment on slots as it’s the airport operator’s job. Well, it is the job of the airport operator. We will see what needs to be done,” a senior aviation ministry official said.

While India’s official response is not clear, industry watchers said the development may impact a proposal to increase the number of flights between India and Dubai. On request from airlines, which have been complaining about not getting desired slots at the Dubai airport, the Indian government had decided to take a commitment on providing desired slots to its carriers before agreeing for any increase in flying rights entitlements.

The need for negotiations on increasing flying rights between India and Dubai was required as carriers from both sides have exhausted the existing quota. Current entitlements between India and Dubai allow airlines to operate 63,000 weekly seats and Dubai has demanded an increase of 50,000 weekly seats between the two countries. India is not in favour of such a huge increase.

“The responsibility to relook at the bilateral with the UAE lies with the government,” said Mark Martin, CEO at aviation advisory firm Martin Consulting.