Emirates said to seek more Indian flights, A380 expansion

Dubai airline says it is currently restricted by limited seat capacity as part of bilateral agreement

Emirates Airline is reportedly looking to increase its network in India once bilateral agreements on seating capacity are signed with the Indian government.

A senior airline official was quoted as saying on Wednesday that Emirates will be able to expand its network in India from the existing 10 cities.

Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president, commercial operations, West Asia and Indian Ocean, said in comments published in Indian media: "We have ten points (cities) in India. We are trying to expand as much as we can. With the limited seat capacity we are very much restricted today to these ten points.

"If the bilateral agreement goes through, we can gain seats and we can cover most of the points in India. Our objective is to cover as much as we can," he told reporters on the sidelines of India Aviation-2016.

His comments come just days after it was reported that the Dubai government has requested an increase of 50,000 seats in total capacity entitlement between India and Dubai.

Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) has sought an increase of 75 percent in India-Dubai seat entitlement, according to India's Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

He also said the airline would seek to fly its A380 superjumbo to cities such as Delhi and Hyderabad on top of its existing route to Mumbai.

Currently the Dubai-based carrier has 65,000 seating capacity from Dubai with 185 flights a week but Khoury said 100,000 seats may not be enough to meet demand.

A report last year said Emirates Airline has contributed more than $848 million annually to India's gross domestic product (GDP), supporting over 86,000 jobs.

The Dubai-based airline and the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) in New Delhi, last year released the results of an economic impact study that measures Emirates’ contribution to the Indian economy.

It also said the airline generates almost $1.7 billion in foreign exchange earnings and forecasts the increased contribution that Emirates would be able to make if capacity entitlements were expanded.

Last month, Etihad Airways said it operates 175 flights each week to and from 11 Indian gateway cities. The combined networks of Etihad Airways and Jet Airways offer over 250 weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and 15 cities across India.

The figures come as trade between the India and the UAE is estimated to grow by more than 60 percent in the next five years from the current level of around $60 billion.

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