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In midst of holiday season, Dubai flights hit by seat allocation dispute

December 25, 2020 13:50 IST

Dispute arose as Indian carriers objected to Emirates flying passengers beyond Dubai, and Dubai authorities complained that Indian airlines have been flying more flights than allocated to its carriers.

Indian carriers are being forced to cancel flights to Dubai or consider flights to other destinations in the United Arab Emirates following a seat allocation dispute between the two countries.

The dispute required the intervention of the external affairs ministry after which Dubai has agreed to allow Indian airlines to operate 4,800 seats per week.

This works to around 26 daily flights with an 180 seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

 

Currently, Indian carriers were utilising around 6,800 seats to Dubai, it is learnt.

The seat allocation will come into effect from Monday.

The development, which comes close on the heels of the suspension of air service to the UK, will spoil travel plans during Christmas holidays.

Dubai, along with Maldives, has been a popular holiday destination for Indians in recent months.

India and UAE agreed to an air travel bubble in July.

According to the agreement, UAE airlines were allowed to transport passengers only between the two countries.

However, dispute arose as Indian carriers objected to Emirates flying passengers beyond Dubai.

And Dubai authorities complained that Indian airlines have been flying more flights than allocated to its carriers.

Earlier this week Dubai threatened to put on hold approvals granted to Indian carriers but the issue has been resolved for now.

“Both sides have agreed on equitable distribution of seats,” a civil aviation ministry official said.

At present, Air India, GoAir, IndiGo, Vistara and SpiceJet are operating flights to Dubai.

Emirates and flydubai are UAE carriers operating from Dubai.

The sudden change in seat allocation in the midst of a holiday season has put airlines in a spot and they are looking to operate flights to other destinations such as Sharjah or Ras Al Khaimah.

However, with capacity being far less at these airports than Dubai, airline executives see limited opportunity to operate more flights.

“We have four daily departures to Dubai and are evaluating options for operating flights to other destinations in the UAE,” a senior GoAir executive said.

A Vistara executive said the airline will be scaling down its Dubai flights and a decision would be taken in the regards soon.

IndiGo and SpiceJet spokespersons did not respond to text messages sent to them.

Photograph: Rafael Marchante/Reuters

Aneesh Phadnis & Arindam Majumder in Mumbai/New Delhi
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