India’s decision to grant additional 20 per cent increase in the weekly entitlements to Dubai to 65,200 seats has evoked criticism.

“This is another example of very ad hoc manner of allocating bilaterals, which is completely delinked to national goals and interests. India is increasingly outsourcing its international traffic to Middle East countries. This has strategic implications,” Kapil Kaul, CEO, South Asia, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), said.

“Bilaterals are national assets and allocation should be only driven by a well structured Cabinet-approved policy and not driven by under-prepared and non-transparent methods that remain in practice since 2004. CAPA firmly believes that such decisions should have been left to the new government. India’s aviation strategy is, at present, against national interests,” Mr. Kaul said. According to analysts, India should not open up just because the UAE or Middle East carriers are expanding. The move would adversely affect Indian airlines, they said.

Echoing CAPA’s observation, Air India officials said that the decision would severely impact Air India’s North American operations due to lack of passengers.

With the additional entitlements to Dubai’s Emirates, the total weekly seats entitled to the UAE has gone up to over 1,30,000 seats per week.

“Enhancement of seat quotas with Dubai is a good thing for both countries. It will increase competition, and help bring down fares. The winter of 2014 may see the arrival of Emirates’ A380s, which will further reduce the airfares to India,” said Amber Dubey, Partner, and India Head of Aerospace and Defence at global consultancy KPMG.

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