Qatar Airways has asked the Indian authorities to allow them to increase the number of seats on their flights to India. Qatar Airways has sought the addition of more seats on high volume routes such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. The arrangement has been requested on a temporary basis and without formal changes to the existing weekly seat capacity entitlement under the 2009 Qatar-India bilateral aviation framework.
Qatar Airways' request to be allotted more seats comes amid the Indian government's decision to cut the number of seats allotted to Jet Airways in the route. The government has cancelled 65 per cent of the Jet Airways' international traffic rights (around 5,670 seats per week) on the India-Qatar route, leaving it with just 2,889 seats per week, CNBC TV 18 reported. On India-UAE (Dubai) route, Jet's traffic rights on 45 per cent seats (5,852) per week stand withdrawn, leaving Jet with just 7,154 seats. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has also temporarily withdrawn Jet Airways' traffic right to other Southeast Asian cities like Hong Kong (50 per cent), and Singapore (13 per cent).
In its request, Qatar Airways has said if the number of seats were not increased, Indian travellers would be "forced to either choose expensive last-minute tickets or complicated and burdensome re-routings". 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," the Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said.
The overall reduction in the number of seats between Gulf and Indian cities combined with the imminent peak in traffic demand due to summer vacation may put enormous upward pressure on costs for airlines, say experts.
Jet Airways CEO Vinay Dube had resigned on Tuesday with immediate effect citing "personal reasons". He is the fifth top-level official to quit the beleaguered company after its deputy CEO and Chief Financial Officer Amit Agarwal and company's Chief People Officer (CPO) Rahul Taneja put in their resignation papers. The airline ceased operations temporarily around mid-April due to an acute liquidity crisis.