‘You name the city, we’ll fly there’

Ashwini Phadnis Dubai | Updated on January 09, 2018

Sudhir Sreedharan, Senior Vice-President, Commercial Operations - GCC, Africa and Indian Subcontinent, flydubai

India ought to relook bilateral pacts to let in more airlines, says flydubai

With at least two more Indian carriers on the verge of starting international operations, Dubai-based low-cost airline flydubai feels this is the best time for the Indian government to have a relook at its various bilateral air service agreements (ASAs), including with Dubai.

In an informal chat with Indian media persons, Sudhir Sreedharan, flydubai’s Senior Vice-President, Commercial Operations - Indian Subcontinent, GCC and Africa, expressed hope that India will eventually yield and exchange more ASAs. Vistara and GoAir are likely to become eligible for international flights soon, he observed.

An airline can fly on an international route only if the country where it is registered has an ASA with the destination country. Normally such agreements specify the number of flights a week, the number of cities that can be covered and how many airlines from either country can operate on these routes.

India and Dubai have not exchanged fresh ASAs for several years, which means airlines from the two countries can only fly the number of flights allowed some time back.

Slot concerns

India has declined to exchange an ASA with Dubai stating that its carriers do not get adequate landing and take-off slots in Dubai. Pointing out that Dubai airport slots are controlled by an independent body, Sreedharan said airlines from Dubai too face a similar problem at various Indian airports including Kochi, Mumbai and Delhi.

“Between India and Dubai slots are not really an issue. There is so much demand that whenever a flight is put into the reservation system it sells,” he added.

Driving growth

flydubai has also suggested to the Ministry of Civil Aviation that it give the airline access to any airport where the Indian government wants to drive passenger demand.

“You want us to go to Bhubaneswar, Tirupati, Coimbatore, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Chandigarh, Surat, Shillong...wherever you want us to invest to drive economic growth and employment...”, the company is willing to fly there, he said. “Incredible India...pick up whichever campaign you want, we will be happy to do that. Any formula that you want to work outside the bilateral formula in developing greenfield airports...we will be happy to do it,” Sreedharan said.

(The writer is at the Dubai Air Show at the invitation of flydubai)

Published on November 14, 2017

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