India grounds Air Arabia’s designated airline status plea

Published - August 27, 2016 11:05 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

HYDERABAD (AP) - 10-04-2015 - BL/ AVIATION INDUSTRY / FILES - Air Arabia flight at Hyderabad Airport  . --PHOTO: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

HYDERABAD (AP) - 10-04-2015 - BL/ AVIATION INDUSTRY / FILES - Air Arabia flight at Hyderabad Airport . --PHOTO: P_V_SIVAKUMAR

India has declined a request, for a second time, from the United Arab Emirates’ Ras Al Khaimah to grant flying rights for Air Arabia to connect with Indian cities as its designated carrier.

“Air Arabia didn’t meet the air services’ agreement requirements,” R.N. Choubey, Civil Aviation Secretary, said in an interview. “How can an airline be a designated carrier for two emirates?”The Indian authorities have said that Air Arabia already operates flights to Indian cities from its hub in Sharjah and the same airline cannot be granted flying rights to India from another emirate.

Airlines from India and Ras Al Khaimah are entitled to fly 1,428 seats each week from each side at present, as per the air services agreement.

Countries sign air service agreements through bilateral negotiations to decide the number of flights airlines can fly into each other’s territory. Then, the governments distribute the allocated seats to the respective designated airlines. However, in the case of UAE, India has signed separate bilateral air traffic agreements with seven emirates, including Ras Al Khaimah.

RAK closure

After Ras Al Khaimah’s official airline RAK Airways shut down in January 2014, Air Arabia was designated the official carrier of the emirate by its civil aviation authority. RAK Airways flew to 10 destinations in India and Air Arabia sought additional traffic rights to India as the designated carrier of Ras Al Khaimah. But the proposal has been rejected twice by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“Air Arabia failed to establish that its base of operations is from Ras Al Khaimah,” said a senior ministry official. “We have asked Ras Al Khaimah to come up with a new request with a designated carrier that is substantially owned and effectively controlled by the emirate.” Air Arabia operates 115 weekly flights from Sharjah to 13 Indian cities.

“It’s a good decision,” said Jitender Bhargava, former executive director, Air India.

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