India lifting the ban on the A-380 is a huge plus for Emirates

The jury is still out on the real winner of the air services bilateral treaty that India and Dubai signed recently.

The Indian side is satisfied that after years it was finally able to convince Dubai to allow gauge conversion.

That is, permitting Indian carriers to fly small aircraft from various cities in India to Dubai and then transferring flyers on to larger aircraft to fly them to any part of the globe.

The latest agreement states that gauge conversion is allowed in the territory of the UAE, which many in the Indian side are also interpreting to mean that a domestic carrier can change aircraft not only at the existing Dubai International Airport, but also at the new Dubai Central Al Makhtoum Airport.

However, currently, only Air India and Jet Airways have a mixed fleet of large and small aircraft. So only they stand to benefit from the latest relaxation, as a large volume of Indian outbound traffic is to the UK, Canada and the US, and these routes require large aircraft.

Huge potential

Indian carriers seem to have realised the potential that exists in carrying passengers onwards from Dubai, as the Ministry received a request for 25,000 additional seats a week in the bilateral, although only 11,000 seats were finally exchanged between India and Dubai, that too in a phased manner.

In the first phase, airlines from India and Dubai can fly 5,500 additional seats every week. The number of additional seats at the eight metros, including Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, has been capped at 3,000.

In addition, airlines from Dubai have been permitted to operate not more than 900 seats a week to Kochi and 660 to Thiruvananthapuram.

Also, no additional flights have been allowed to three cities to which airlines from Dubai already operate. However, even with these caps, Dubai-based Emirates could benefit, as the Indian Government has lifted the ban on operations of the world’s largest commercial jet, the Airbus A-380, to India.

The 3,000 additional seats could offer Emirates an opportunity to operate the aircraft on one of its existing flights currently operated by a Boeing 777 to Delhi and Mumbai.

(This article was published on March 2, 2014)
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