Emirates President Tim Clarke has said it is not easy for an airline to operate in India and if the Tata group cannot hire Air India, no one else in the country will be able to do so.
“Air India needs to be as big as United Airlines. It should be larger due to its domestic market as well as the volume of non-resident Indians (NRIs) abroad and economic activity in and out of India. It is a gold mine,” Mr Clarke said on Monday.
Air India currently has 128 aircraft in its fleet, while Chicago-based United Airlines has 860 aircraft.
“You (India) have a billion population with an NRI population that is so large and growing all the time, to the impression that Air India will not be one of the largest international carriers in the world,” Clarke said. Clark said. Here on the sidelines of the 78th Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
After successfully winning a bid for the airline on October 8 last year, the Tata group took over control of loss-making and debt-ridden Air India on January 27.
“I think the best thing that could have happened for Air India was for Tata to take it over. I am probably the only one in this room who flew Air India when it was running and owned by Air India. And it was a great airline. One of the first airlines to buy a Boeing 707 aircraft in 1959 or 1960, whenever it was,” Mr Clarke said.
He said that for decades, Air India has remained a small player on the international scene.
India’s international passenger market is dominated by international airlines such as Emirates, one of the two major UAE carriers.
Emirates – which operates 170 flights connecting Dubai to Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Thiruvananthapuram – with a stop in Dubai attracts significant numbers of Indian passengers from India to Europe and the US. takes away.
While Air India has remained a small company in the international passenger market for decades, Indian aviation markets like Kingfisher have suffered many casualties, Mr Clarke said.
Many private carriers in India have done their best in exceptionally difficult circumstances, not the least of which is that fuel prices in India are very high because the government taxes them so heavily, he said. .
“Hence, it is not easy to operate in the Indian market even though the population is significantly upward and getting more mobile over time. So you need a secure pair with business acumen to be able to activate it (Air India). If Tata can’t make it work, no one there (in India) will be able to make it work.”
He said that one thing that India has got is a huge demand, which is not there in many countries.
Asked how the rise of Air India will affect the emirate, he said, “As far as the emirate is concerned, well, let’s be honest. I mean, there’s a lot for everyone.” “I think the fact is that they (travellers) love our product. We are pushing our A380 planes to places like Mumbai. I think we are going to Delhi too…but really, will they (Indian travellers) not like any of theirs, they won’t be able to go to Vancouver etc.? It has always been dependent on people like us (Emirates). thank you so much. We are very grateful for this. And we keep on asking for more (permission to operate more flights between India and Dubai), ”he said.
Mr Clarke said Emirates is filling the gap in the Indian international passenger market as there is no other airline in the country that will be able to “lift the slack”.
“And even if there was, it still would not be enough. This is such a huge population,” he said.
Emirates, through the UAE government, is asking for more bilateral rights from the Indian government to operate more flights between Dubai and India.
Asked if he sees more opportunities to operate cargo flights to India after the India-UAE Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Clarke replied, “All I can say is that it is in the hands of the Indian government.” Since 2015, we have been requesting for more points, more frequencies and more seats.” “I think it’s really up to them. I don’t think there can be anything more inspiring than we have been in the value of doing so,” he said.
He said that he is hopeful that the new FTA will take care of not only the cargo but also the movement of passengers.
“But these things have always been troublesome for the Indian government,” he said.
Asked if he had noticed any change of late in the Indian government’s behavior on the issue, he replied, “Not really.” “I saw the embrace of both the countries for FTA but it has not manifested itself in more flights to India. I hope it comes,” he said.
For airlines from a particular country to operate international flights to a city in the other country, both parties must negotiate and sign a “bilateral air services agreement”, which stipulates how many flights per week ( or seats) may be allowed to fly. from one country to another.