Air services

United Arab Emirates want fast restoration of air services with India, envoy says | World news

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants to restore normal air services to India quickly as the lack of adequate flights poses problems for travelers and has resulted in increased air fares, the UAE ambassador said on Wednesday. , Ahmed AlBanna.

As part of the air bubbles deal developed by the two countries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Emirates and Etihad, the national airlines of the United Arab Emirates, are currently operating at 30% of their capacity. total under the normal air services agreement.

This affects the traffic and the price of a round trip has increased to almost ??200,000 of the pre-pandemic rate of about ??80,000 to ??90,000. In addition to returning to the air services agreement, which will double traffic, the two countries should consider increasing their capacities under the pact, AlBanna told a group of reporters.

The UAE has also asked the Indian government to exempt flights to the emirates from the restrictions for the duration of Dubai Expo 2020, which will run until March next year, but has yet to got the “green light,” he said.

The UAE is home to more than three million Indian expatriates, the largest ethnic community in the Emirates comprising professionals and blue collar workers and their families. Demand for flights has increased as more Indians return to the UAE. Dubai also serves as a key transit point for Indians traveling to other parts of the world.

AlBanna noted that the total weekly capacity for Dubai alone under the air services agreement was around 65,000 seats, while only 24,000 seats are currently available. The frequency of flights on the Delhi-Dubai route has dropped from five to three per week, he said.

A clause in the 2007 air services agreement stipulates that when capacity on routes between the UAE and India reaches 80%, new quotas to be shared between carriers from the two countries must be renegotiated. AlBanna noted that Indian carriers had reached 100% of their capacity before the pandemic.

“At that time, there were 1,068 flights per week, with around 400+ flights from UAE carriers and over 500 from Indian carriers. We have to renegotiate, ”he said.

Two rounds of talks held in Mumbai in 2017 and New Delhi in 2019 had failed “to reach a final decision on increasing capacity for the four sectors of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah”, did he declare. It would be in India’s best interests to end the air bubble, revert to the air services agreement and open all airports once travel restrictions are further relaxed, a added the emissary.

AlBanna said the UAE and India recently concluded the second round of negotiations on a draft Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in Dubai and a third round will be held soon.

Although both sides plan to complete negotiations by March of next year, AlBanna said, “I want it before March. Hopefully it will be in place. CEPA will be a big plus in our strategic partnership.

Referring to the first virtual meeting of foreign ministers of India, Israel, the United States and the United Arab Emirates last month, AlBanna said the four countries have no plans to create a NATO-type alliance. ” It does not mean anything. It is an economic bloc that focuses on economic and commercial collaboration between the four countries, ”he said.

Technical teams from all four sides prepare for a face-to-face ministerial meeting. “Very soon, once that is done, ministers will meet to discuss other sectors [of cooperation],” he said.