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03 March 2024

Emirates not to hike India seats

By Bindu Suresh Rai

Emirates President Tim Clark ruled out capacity increase to India in the immediate future, blaming aero politics as being the biggest deterrent in the carrier’s expansion into the Asian country.

The Dubai-based airline, which shuttles nearly one million passengers around the world every week, has been lobbying hard to increase routes to other gateway cities in India, along with exploring the possibility of flying A380s on existing ones such as Mumbai and Delhi, with the Asian country now lifting the ban on the superjumbos flying in.

However, Clark stated any movement on the front was unlikely.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of Emirates’ inaugural flight to Boston on March 10, Clark explained that despite India raising weekly seat allocations to Dubai, things weren’t moving.

He said: “The Indian government calls the shots on that. They have given us 11,000 seats for Dubai that has to be shared between flydubai and Emirates. We had asked for 30,000 seats for starters and multiple points in India, in addition to what we have at the moment.

“We didn’t get any of those. There have been no seats since May 2008. We are running at 90 per cent capacity right now. It is such a pity.”

Quizzed whether the scenario may change, Clark said: “No, I don’t think it will open up in the near future.”

He continued: “We as an airline are concentrating on the organic growth. And looking at the Middle East aviation sector, if geopolitics factors at play do not add constraints, it would go nuclear.

“Already the Indian carriers are in the latest round of talks interested in setting up hubs in Dubai. We can’t accommodate them in Dubai International Airport, but if they want to go to Dubai World Central... Just imagine IndiGo or Jet Airways with 50 aircraft on the ground.

“They are constrained in their area of operations, they look at Dubai. And this is on the table for them. I see more of that.”

Talking about Nepal as a possible expansion route, Clark did not deny it, adding that it was “on the radar.”

However, with budget flights performing well on the Asian routes, when asked if Emirates would ever consider launching an all-economy flight on those sectors, Clark ruled it out completely.

He said: “No. I don’t think that will happen. We have very high density operation across two classes and that does the job for us.”


Click to read: Emirates looking at new sukuk issue