x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE airlines welcome arrival of Indian carriers

Carriers say they stand to benefit as India's airlines open new services into the Emirates.

IndiGo will begin flying into Dubai International Airport from Delhi and Mumbai next month. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg News
IndiGo will begin flying into Dubai International Airport from Delhi and Mumbai next month. Brent Lewin / Bloomberg News

UAE airlines hope to benefit from more competition from India's carriers, paving the way for them to be granted expanded access into India in return.

With the budget airline IndiGo scheduled to begin flying into Dubai International Airport from Delhi and Mumbai next month, officials from flydubai say they see the move as a positive development.

They say it will lead to more bilateral discussions between the UAE and Indian governments regarding air access.

"As more Indian airlines begin flying here, we can all get more flights," said Ghaith Al Ghaith, the chief executive of flydubai, the Dubai budget airline that has made the Indian subcontinent a key pillar of its low-cost, short-haul strategy.

India is one of the largest markets for the UAE's carriers, helping to feed traffic into the long-haul networks of Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways as well as point-to-point travel for the budget carriers flydubai, Air Arabia and RAK Airways.

Mr Al Ghaith said the number of flights flydubai was entitled to operate to India was controlled by bilateral agreements between the two countries.

The airline is planning to open its third destination to India later this month with services to Ahmedabad.

"Indian carriers are not using all their entitlements yet," he said. "When they finish their entitlements, then there will be opportunities to get more for both parties."

Adel Ali, the chief executive of Air Arabia, said the number of flights between India and the UAE had doubled over the past four years as airlines from both countries added services.

"This business is all about all reciprocity and balance," he said. "Currently, India and the UAE enjoy a very liberal approach to air traffic and there are lots of flights between the two countries."

Indian airlines that operate services into the UAE include Jet Airways, Air India, Air India Express and Kingfisher, while others, such as SpiceJet, are expected to commence services soon.

Air Arabia flies to 14 Indian destinations and hopes to fly to more cities as airports are upgraded to accommodate foreign carriers, Mr Ali said.

"When the airports become international we would very much like to be there," he said.

igale@thenational.ae