Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju today said the government is ready to open negotiations with the Gulf nations in general and Dubai in particular to enhance the bilateral air traffic rights between the two markets.
“Since the past two years there has been a tremendous improvement in the utilisation levels of the bilaterals by our airlines with the Gulf nations. While it is around 80 per cent for the region as a whole, with Dubai it is over 90 per cent now.
“And with the limits being reached, we are ready to open negotiations with them again. I think we should begin with Dubai shortly,” he told a select group of reporters here.
But Raju was quick to add that the negotiations will not be one-sided, as it has been in the past, but will clearly be mutually beneficial.
“As the aviation minister, my job is to secure our national interests and not someone elses. Though a lot of bad things have happened in the past, I cannot set the clock back. But going forward, I will secure our interests first,” he said when asked why not let the market and capacity determine it as the ultimate beneficiaries will be the consumers.
In the previous negotiations, none of the Gulf nations gave India any benefit at the bilateral talks, but that will not happen again, he said when pointed out that higher seats per week will bring down the prices of tickets and benefit the passengers.
However, the minister did not elaborate on what are “our losses”.
Between India and the Gulf, around 4.2 lakh seats are available every week with Dubai leading the chart with 66,504 seats each per week followed by Abu Dhabi with 50,000 seats each plus 2 per cent additional.