QATAR Airways will likely be able to increase soon its weekly capacity to India, where it is hoping to go up from 24,800 to 72,600 seats.
The airline has almost exhausted current capacity, while Indian carriers combined have only utilised 10,000 seats weekly.
India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) announced in a statement: “Qatar would be the next country with whom we will revise the bilateral air service agreement; we are just negotiating the final number for the enhancement in weekly seats, which will be finalised soon.”
This will place Doha ahead of Abu Dhabi and Dubai in terms of capacity to India. Based on an earlier amendment in 2013 of bilateral traffic rights, Abu Dhabi's weekly seat capacity is set to reach 50,000 by 2015. Currently, Dubai garners 54,000 seats weekly, making Emirates the second largest carrier of Indian travellers.
Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker told TTG Asia e-Daily: “India is an integral part of our expansion plans. We will take as many seats as we can – no limit. We have sufficient aircraft in our fleet and more in the pipeline.”
Sejoe Jose, managing director, Marvel Tours, said: “Qatar’s increase in capacity will allow greater connectivity not only to the MENA (Middle East/North Africa) region but also to destinations in Europe and North America.
“IATA’s 70th Annual General Meeting and World Transport Summit will be held in Doha from June 1-3, 2014, with 700 aviation attendees. It will transform Doha into a global aviation hub.” The new Hamad International Airport is also scheduled to open its passenger-handling facility in 1Q2014.
According to a MoCA official, China, Dubai and Bahrain have also sought greater seat entitlement. Decisions on those countries’ applications will be made after the agreement with Qatar is finalised.