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Stop Etihad's coming, urges Dinesh Trivedi

April 22, 2013 10:41 IST

Dinesh Trivedi, Rajya Sabha member and former minister of railways, has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the talks between the government and its counterpart in Abu Dhabi to allow Etihad Airlines operate more flights to and from India.

A member of Parliament’s standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, Trivedi has raised the issue within the panel this past week. He said permitting Etihad would not only amount to “certain demise of national carrier Air India” but also stunt the growth of the New Delhi international airport as a world-class hub for the South Asian region.

Without naming any private operator, Trivedi’s letter has alleged “the demands of the Abu Dhabi government are being tacitly supported by one of the private airlines of India”.

Citing the example of how Dubai emerged as an international hub on the back of Emirates airlines, Trivedi siad Abu Dhabi wants to do something similar through Etihad.

Criticising the civil aviation ministry for policies which have allegedly led to erosion of government-owned Air India’s (AI’s) market share, Trivedi said to the “adverse comments of the CAG (the Comptroller and Auditor General) with regard to the increase in entitlements for foreign airlines, and holding this single act as being largely responsible for Air India’s current predicament”.

Air India itself has categorically stated to the aviation ministry that it would be “forced to withdraw direct flights to Europe and USA if the (proposed) increase goes through”. Still, the ministry has not re-examined the plan, complained Trivedi. He has, therefore, sought the intervention of the PM.

Citing the example of how Dubai emerged as an international hub on the back of Emirates airlines, Trivedi siad Abu Dhabi wants to do something similar through Etihad.

“Allowing Abu Dhabi to come up as another hub only about three hours flight away from the major Indian metros will kill all aspirations that we may nurture as a nation to establish a world-class hub,” he has stated.

Trivedi argues that the revival of ailing AI, in which the government has pumped in Rs 30,000 crore, needs time. Allowing Etihad to fly to Indian metro cities would spell doom for it. And, Delhi international airport, developed with private partnership, is also in a nascent stage and needs time to flourish. The government proposal would only assist in making Abu Dhabi an international hub.

Kavita Chowdhury in New Delhi
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