The aviation ministry is working on a plan to unilaterally reduce foreign flying rights granted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Germany to curb so-called sixth freedom traffic. This refers to, for instance, a person flying to New York from India via Dubai or any third country.
While this may be good news for Indian carriers, which plan to expand internationally, it could lead to higher fares and reduced connectivity for passengers once regular international flights resume.
As part of the proposal being discussed, the ministry plans to merge the UAE bilateral into one and reduce each emirate’s foreign flying rights by a third, multiple sources told ET.
“Plan is to merge foreign flying rights of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah among others into one under UAE and reduce the allocation by a third of the current allocation. Our (Indian) carriers do not have to take a cut,” said a government official, who did not want to be identified.
The official added that no formal proposal has been sent to these countries yet and the plan is still being discussed with, among others, the external affairs ministry. The idea is to help Indian carriers expand internationally as a substantial number of people going to Europe and Americas fly through these hubs, the person said.
Foreign Carriers to Resist Move
If the plan is accepted by the UAE, the quota for Dubai will be cut by about a third from 65,200 seats per week and from 50,000 seats per week for Abu Dhabi.