Emirates, the biggest Arab carrier, has registered a growth of 24 per cent in passenger traffic in the India - Dubai sector in the one year ending September 30, 2009.

At a time when the global aviation industry was poised to lose due to economic slow down witnessed world over, the Emirates managed to register this growth rate in passenger traffic. The airline is expected to maintain this growth rate till the end of the current financial year, Majid Al Mualla, vice-president, Commercial Operations, West Asia and Indian Ocean, Emirates, told the visiting presspersons from India here recently.

At present the Emirates is operating 172 flights a week from Dubai to 10 destinations in India - Mumbai (35 flights a week); New Delhi (25); Hyderabad (21); Chennai and Bangalore (20 each); Cochin (14); Tiruvananthapuram (11); Ahmedabad (10); Calicut (9) and Kolkatta (7). Following good patronage the airline has planned to increase the services to 184 to these destinations by December 1, Mr. Majid said. The proposed 12 new services will be introduced in the following routes - Kolkatta (5 per week); New Delhi (3); Calicut (2) and Chennai and Tiruvananthapuram (one each). The airline is always open to considering the proposal of adding new destinations in India to its current list, but no immediate plans for the same.

The airline, which entered its 25 th year last month and accounting for 139 aircrafts, introduced a direct daily flight service from Dubai to the South African city of Durban from October 1. Taking into consideration the presence of a large number of Indians in Durban city and surrounding areas and the FIFA 2010 World Cup final round matches in Durban, the airline provided connecting services from the above Indian destination to this flght. This move has clicked and the patronage has remained at 80 per cent.

The airline has joined hands with the Tourism Department of Government of India to organise 'Visit India 2009-10'. Under this project we are encouraging foreign tourists to visit India too. India is a very strong destination for Emirates and it has established very good rapport with the GOI. The reponse from the Indian Government for all our proposals has been very encouragThe airline has appointed its agents throughout the country and over 800 staff are employed in 100 cities in the country, he added. Replying to a question he said that the airline at present had no plan of introducing low budget flights to India.

Mr. Majid said that Emirates was gearig itself up for meeting the demand of large number of football fans visiting South Africa to wintess the FIFA world cup mathches. "We have already started selling the special packages for the World Cup finals across the globe and all our flights will be routed through Dubai only. The iniatial response itself, in particular from Australia and European countries, is very encouraging. Some of the teams are expected to be based in Mauritius for a few months and undergo training. We have planned to go it in a big manner to Mauritius", he added.

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