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Emirates keen on more Indian cities

December 25, 2003 18:10 IST

Emirates Air, the Dubai-based international carrier, in a communication to the civil aviation ministry has offered to connect any destination in India with Dubai as per the government's choice.

Nabil Sultan, vice-president -- India & Nepal, said: "We appreciate there is a recognition on the part of government to look into the larger picture. Consequently, we have approached the ministry with such an open proposal. We have asked the ministry to advise us on destinations that it wants us to operate on."

Emirates, which aims at a fleet size of 153 aircraft by 2012, has identified India as one of its core markets, after the UK, Australia, UAE and Germany, and has accordingly started designing its mid and long term global strategies.

The carrier, which currently owns 54 aircraft and has already placed orders to acquire 99 aircraft by 2010-12, operates 10,800 seats per week to India.

"India is growing at a healthy pace and we are willing to double or even treble our frequency on the India-Dubai route. We have reached a load factor of over 90 per cent on the India route. Blocking access to a country may mean a hindrance in the overall growth of the economy," Sultan said.

The Emirates offer assumes significance in light of the fact that while on one hand the national carriers -- Air- India and Indian Airlines have not entirely capitalised on the potential of the domestic market -- international airlines are now planning to cash in on this.

Sultan added that India, which can easily absorb any extent of capacity expansion, has often been underestimated and that only the tip of the iceberg has been scratched so far.

Excess capacity to the extent of 25 per cent is a must for the complete evolution of a market and under such circumstances, consumers are the main beneficiary.

Emirates currently operates 42 weekly flights including 18 flights between Mumbai and Dubai, 7 Delhi-Dubai, 4 Chennai-Dubai, 8 Dubai-Hydrabad, and 5 flights between Kochi and Dubai.
Rumi Dutta in Mumbai