NATIONAL

UAE ready for air traffic pact

Looking for slots:A view of the Dubai airport. India has separate air agreements with various emirates of the UAE.APKamran Jebreili

Looking for slots:A view of the Dubai airport. India has separate air agreements with various emirates of the UAE.APKamran Jebreili  

But the Gulf nation demands access to more Indian airports

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is in favour of India’s proposal for a unified bilateral air traffic pact provided the Gulf nation gets access to more Indian airports.

“We understand that India wants to rationalise the air service agreements with the UAE, and have one unified pact instead… We have suggested to Indian officials that we are happy to talk about a unified agreement, with the hope they will speak of giving the UAE airlines access to more airports,” UAE Ambassador to India Dr. Ahmed Al Banna told The Hindu .

He said officials on both sides would soon hold a meeting to discuss the proposal to sign a single bilateral air traffic agreement.

“If they are worried that Delhi and Mumbai are busy and there are no extra slots, then we would be happy to speak about Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kochi or Bangalore and Chennai,” Dr. Banna said.

India has signed separate agreements with emirates of the UAE which is a unique arrangement as bilateral air traffic rights are generally signed between two countries. It has an agreement each with Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Sharjah.

Global practice

Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told The Hindu in an interview recently that India is contemplating a single air traffic pact with UAE to align with global practice.

“It becomes a question of how it is done globally and what is the standard methodology that is in place for negotiating (air traffic rights) and that’s really what we are examining right now. How do other countries consider their negotiation with the UAE and let’s make sure we are consistent with global protocols,” Mr. Sinha said, explaining the rationale behind India’s shift in strategy.

Smaller airports

Dr. Banna said UAE airlines were willing to fly to smaller airports in India too such as Indore and Visakhapatnam. “We hope that it will be considered by India,” he said.

Mr. Sinha, on the other hand, said the air traffic pact with the Gulf had to be “apples to apples” in terms of airports and landing slots.

As per the global practice, countries sign air service agreement bilaterally which decides the equal number of flights or seats per week that can fly into each other’s country depending upon their own requirements. Then, the government distributes the allocated seats to the respective airlines.

Airlines from India and UAE are entitled to fly around 1.34 lakh seats a week from both sides at present. Airlines from India and Dubai have exhausted their bilateral entitlement.

The air traffic agreement between India and the UAE has been a bone of contention for both the countries in the recent past.

While Dubai has been constantly demanding more entitlements, India has refrained from renewing its present bilateral agreement due to lack of viable slots available for Indian carriers in Dubai.

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