India has reportedly demanded a ratio of four seats for its airlines for each additional seat granted to Dubai-based carriers, as per a report by the Economic Times. This stands out as international aviation trade typically involves a bilateral process where states reciprocally exchange rights.
As part of the bilateral air service agreement signed in January 2014 between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India, airlines from both countries have the authorization to operate a combined total of 66,000 seats weekly connecting Dubai to 15 cities in India.
Indian and UAE airlines, including Emirates and Flydubai, have utilized the allocated quota entirely. The UAE has asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation to consider raising the seat limit for Dubai by an additional 50,000.
As per sources cited by the report, the government aimed to establish a more advantageous position for Indian airlines on international routes.
The airlines based in the UAE utilize these allocations for Sixth Freedom traffic to Europe and North America, where ticket values are higher. In contrast, Indian airlines primarily focus on providing point-to-point services to Dubai. Therefore, there is a need for a more balanced policy that favors Indian airlines, as per the report.
The term 'Sixth Freedom traffic' pertains to passengers transported by an airline from one country to another through its airports. For example, during the fiscal year FY19-FY20, 69 per cent of Indian travelers heading to Europe and North America used West Asian hubs like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, opting for foreign airlines.