Air India, SpiceJet eye Jet's lucrative Dubai route

Air India, SpiceJet eye Jet
Highlights

The two airlines are learnt to have urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to allocate traffic rights to them, in case Jet Airways fails to utilize the weekly seat quota granted by the govt

New Delhi: With Jet Airways suspending its international flights in the face of deep financial crisis and staring at closure, rivals Air India and SpiceJet are eyeing the beleaguered carrier's flying rights to the lucrative India-Dubai route.

The two airlines are learnt to have urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to allocate traffic rights to them, in case Jet Airways fails to utilize the weekly seat quota granted by the government.

A senior Air India executive said that fares on the India-Dubai route had soared following sudden withdrawal of nearly 13,000 seats operated by Jet Airways on the sector.

"The seats may be reallocated to domestic carriers before Emirates has its monopoly at the cost of Indian carriers," the executive from the Indian flag carrier said.

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet, which has been on an expansion drive, also wants the government to allocate it the unutilized seats so that it could mount more capacity on the commercially profitable route.

The Gurgaon-based airline is looking to add about 6,000 seats per week from about 12,800 seats per week now. The airline on Monday announced to operate flights to eight foreign destinations including Dubai from Mumbai. The new flights will be started by May-end.

Industry experts have supported the idea of allocating unutilized seat entitlements by Jet Airways, stating it will help consumers.

"The government's job is to protect the consumers and the sector and not necessarily an individual company.

The promoters knew that the airline was in financial trouble almost a year back, yet they have been playing hard ball and negotiations have been stretched to the point that finding a credible buyer is going to be a real challenge," said Dhiraj Mathur, Partner, PwC.

He said that the drastic capacity reduction has sent fares into the stratosphere and threatens to jeopardize the sector's phenomenal growth in the past decade.

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