Foreign airlines gain as Indian carriers cut international services

December 10th, 2008 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Indian air carriers are continuing to cut flights on international routes as part of their cost-cutting measures, leading to foreign airlines operating in the country eating into their passenger load, a government official said Wednesday.Indian carriers presently utilise less than 40 percent of their bilateral air service agreement rights, which determine whether airlines can fly between two countries, the official at the civil aviation ministry told IANS.

However, foreign carriers like Emirates utilise more than 70 percent of their rights, while it is 100 percent in case of the Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways.

Last month, the United Arab Emirates-based Emirates Airlines announced increasing its weekly flights to India from 132 to 163 from Feb 1, 2009. Similarly, Cathay Pacific Airways said its weekly flights will go up from eight to 24 from the start of next year.

Other airlines that increased their Indian services include British Airways, which has recently launched a daily flight from Hyderabad to London and five weekly flights between Bangalore and London. Scandinavian Airlines has also increased its weekly service from India to Copenhagen, Denmark, from one to three.

Emirates’ expansion is bad news for India’s flagship carrier Air India, which has already cut its international capacity by over 20 percent. Presently, Air India operates over 150 weekly flights to Dubai.

Jet Airways, India’s largest private airline, is also expected to cut international flights during the winter schedule, an airline official said.

Air India is expected to post a loss of Rs.21 billion (Rs.2,100 crore) this fiscal whereas the accumulated loss of both Kingfisher Airlines and Jet Airways would cross Rs.51 billion (Rs.5,100 crore).

Indian carriers reported a cumulative loss of about Rs.40 billion (Rs.4,000 crore) in 2007-08. This is expected to touch Rs.90 billion (Rs.9,000 crore) this fiscal.

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