By Sanjay Singh / New Delhi
Post- shutdown of India’s leading private carrier, Jet Airways, one of the leading Gulf carrier, Qatar Airways has approached the Indian government to allow them to increase the number of seats on their flights to India.
Qatar’s demand comes soon after the government decided to allot about 5,700 weekly seats to state-run national carrier, Air India post grounding of Jet Airways unused quota on the lucrative India-Dubai air route.
Unfortunately during the UPA government Air India didn’t get its preferential rights in allocation of traffic rights over foreign routes after losing it to private carriers. During the same time then, Qatar Airways had then desperately tried hard to expand its seats on India-Gulf route, which couldn’t happen then.
Qatar Airways has now sought an addition of more seats on high volume routes to Gulf destinations from New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and few other metro destinations in India.
Qatar Airways in its request has stated that if the number of seats were not increased, it would affect over 7 lakh Indians living in Qatar, as many of travel to India during the ongoing summer vacation.
However, the demand for additional seats by Qatar Airways is for temporary basis and without formal changes to the existing weekly seat capacity entitlement under the 2009 Qatar-India bilateral aviation framework.
Qatar Airways’ request has come in the wake of Jet Airways suspending its operations indefinitely. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has cancelled over 65 per cent of the Jet Airways’ international traffic rights (close to 5,670 seats per week) on the India-Qatar air route, and leaving out only 2,889 seats per week.
In its request, Qatar Airways has said if the number of seats were not increased, it will affect movement of Indian travellers to India and back and they would be forced to choose expensive last-minute air tickets. More than 7 lakh Indians live in Qatar and many of them visit their home country during summer holidays.
“Qatar Airways believes that the proposed contingency plan is a sound and practical way to address the financial and emotional stress that Indian travellers are set to experience in the coming weeks. We are extremely proud of the great contribution made by Indian nationals to our airline and to our nation and we seek to be a loyal and reliable partner in the face of adversity,” Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group CEO said.