Emirates wants to add more seats, destinations to India

January 15th, 2012 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Dublin, Jan 15 (IANS) Already a big player in India, flying to 10 cities, the UAE’s flag carrier Emirates hopes the next bilateral pact between the two sides will remove air pockets to facilitate more capacity and routes to India to utilise the full potential.

The carrier, which operates as many as 185 flights a week to India, also hopes to fly the Airbus A380 to India, riding on the latent capacity for such gigantic aircraft and the interest the bird had evoked on a solo promotional run to Delhi two years ago.

“We are very keen to expand further into India. This is a major growth market for us, not just for flights into Dubai, but also beyond to any destination in Europe and beyond,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates.

“But all that depends on the Indian government. We hope as and when the bilateral pact is reviewed next, our request is accommodated,” Clark told IANS on the margins of an event here marking direct Dubai-Dublin flights.

The review of the bilateral pact between the UAE and India is likely in June.

“A part of that strategy will be also to fly the A380 aircraft to India,” said the senior executive of Emirates which already has a fleet of 20 A380s in service with an order for another 70 placed with Airbus Industrie.

“But that again is the Indian government’s call,” said the top executive of one of the fastest-expanding carriers globally, adding the five-million-strong Indian diaspora in the Gulf region exhibited a strong market for Emirates.

According to Clark, Emirates was only looking at an organic growth in India and not keen on a stake in any domestic carrier, as and when the Indian government allows such a step — which is now under active consideration.

He also ruled out either promoting or joining a global airline alliance and that’s the reason why Emirates is among the few carriers that have a separate lounge in the new terminal “T3″ in the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.

According to Clark, India figures prominently whenever Emirates starts a new route or rationalises existing ones. The latest Dubai-Dublin sector was a case point, he said, hoping to ferry a large number of passengers from Indian cities to Ireland via Dubai.

At the launch of the new flight, particularly appreciative was Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar, who is a Dublin-born doctor with an Indian general practitioner for a father and an Irish mother.

“Apart from Dubai, this new service considerably improves Ireland’s connectivity with India. This, I am sure, will result in further increase in tourism numbers from India,” Varadkar, who graduated from the famed Trinity College, told IANS.

Some 100,000 Indians visit Ireland each year, despite there being no direct service.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be reached at arvind.p@ians.in)

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