Indian carriers eye flying slots of Qatar Airways at Dubai

Indian carriers, hungry for expanding their operations to Dubai, are eyeing flying slots of Qatar Airways that remain unutilised after Saudi Arabia, UAE and other Gulf nations broke diplomatic relations and cut all land, sea and air links with Qatar.

Some Indian carriers have pushed the case for holding bilateral talks with Dubai and increase seat quota from each side.

“Dubai aviation authorities have assured slots to Indian carriers. Getting slots at Dubai airport was the main issue flagged by Indian carriers. But now after the assurance, it does not seem to be a problem. The two sides can now hold negotiations for bilateral seat quota,” a source said.

With Emirates and flydubai exhausting all the seats available to them, Dubai has been pressing India for bilaterally increase the seats and frequency. It had earlier sought to increase the quota by 50,000 seats a week. The designated carriers from the two sides at present operate 65,500 seats a week connecting various Indian cities with Dubai.
Indian carriers too have used all the rights allocated to them and wanted the quota to go up but they linked it with Dubai providing more slots. While getting a slot at the Dubai airport was very difficult a few months back, it is possible to get one now after Qatar Airways stopped operations to the city-state.

In a sudden move, some of the key Arab nations like Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen had last June announced to snap their diplomatic ties with Qatar. This was followed by the UAE announcing to suspend flights operated by its carrier Etihad Airways, Emirates and flydubai to Qatar. Saudi Arabia also banned Qatar Airways from flying in its airspace.

The ties are yet to get normal and transport links re-stored.

Besides direct traffic, most of the Gulf and West Asian carriers use India as a source market to feed their flights to Europe and North America using their hubs. As per industry estimate, Indian passengers account for Gulf carriers’ 30 per cent traffic to the US.

Among major carriers flying international traffic to and from India, Dubai’s Emirates rank third with 9.5 per cent market share following Air India and Jet Airways closely, as per the latest data compiled by Indian aviation regulator DGCA.

As many as 95 carriers -- 5 Indian and 90 foreign carriers -- currently connect India providing air connectivity with 58 countries through more than 300 routes.