India has enough room for multiple wide-body carriers to flourish: Emirates

  • The Dubai-based airline, with an all wide-body fleet, is unfazed by the latest 30-wide-body aircraft order by India’s largest airline IndiGo, and sees a significant potential in the international air travel market to and from India.

Anu Sharma
First Published2 Jun 2024, 07:54 PM IST
Emirates is the largest foreign player on the international air traffic market to and from India, with around 10% share.
Emirates is the largest foreign player on the international air traffic market to and from India, with around 10% share.(Reuters)

Dubai: Dubai-based Emirates sees enough room in India for multiple wide-body aircraft operators to flourish, a senior executive said, at a time airlines in the south Asian nation have ordered 100 such long-haul planes to meet the burgeoning demand on international routes.

The airline, with an all wide-body fleet, is unfazed by the latest 30-wide-body aircraft order by India’s largest airline IndiGo, and sees a significant potential in the international air travel market to and from India.

“Definitely, there is a great opportunity for them (IndiGo) and for many other carriers to tap ultra-long-haul market. Today, India is sitting on 70-80 million traffic that is going on international routes. It is not enough with a population size of 1.4 billion. I think there is enough room for all of them, including us, to be expanding,” Adnan Kazim, deputy president, chief commercial officer, Emirates, told Mint. The widespread Indian diaspora across the US, Europe, Africa, and South America also aids the demand momentum, he added.

Since 2023, Indian airlines have placed a cumulative order of 100 wide-body aircraft with a 70 wide-body aircraft order placed by Air India in February 2023 and another 30 by IndiGo last month.

Also read: Air India to make substantial investment in “historic” aircraft order

“I would say it is a good thing happening in this sort of domain and good for the industry and consumers. The size of opportunity is enough, that will not be displacing or taking away from each other,” he said.

Emirates is the largest foreign player on the international air traffic market to and from India, with around 10% share. As of March 2024, Emirates operated a fleet of 260 wide-body aircraft, including Airbus A380 and Boeing B777 family aircraft. It also has another 310 wide-body aircraft on order, including Airbus A350, Boeing B787 and B777 family aircraft. It currently operates 167 weekly flights connecting 9 cities in India to Dubai.

Bilateral Limits

While Emirates has been trying to increase flights operations from India since 2014, it has so far been restricted to operate 65,000 seats for Dubai under the bilateral agreement between India and the UAE. The Indian government wants domestic carriers to add flights to Europe and Americas and restrict foreign carriers by not agreeing to any increase in foreign flying rights.

Also read: No more rights  to foreign carriers in India. Why?

"I think for us, with the current constraint and congestion airports in India are going through, particularly the core ones, to bring a smaller gauge will not be helpful and not good even for India,” he said when asked whether the airline plans to add more flights by reducing capacity per aircraft.

“I doubt we will be changing our strategy around downsizing the gauge to optimizing the frequency, we will keep things as they are. In fact, we are thinking of putting more A380s to even further optimize,” he added.

Exploring Partnerships

The airline reiterated that it is open to partnerships in India. The airline has attempted codeshare partnerships in India in the past. Emirates had signed a codeshare deal with SpiceJet in November 2019, but the plan did not take off due to various reasons, including the onset of covid pandemic, and mismatch between a full-service airline and a low-cost carrier.

Also read: Emirates, Air India eye codeshare pact

“As far as India market is concerned, we are always open to explore opportunities. Today we don't have anything in the pipeline. We are quite open to the future, if something comes in, we will look at it and assess within the company,” he added.

(The reporter is in Dubai at the invitation of International Air Transport Association)

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First Published:2 Jun 2024, 07:54 PM IST
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