NEW DELHI: In the backdrop of an impending deal with Gulf carrier Etihad, Jet AirwaysBSE 0.33 % is pushing hard in favour of the Abu Dhabi government's demand to treble the number of seats flown between the two countries to over 40,000 per week from 13,300 at present.
According to government sources, Abu Dhabi has asked for a huge revision in the number of seats used by airlines to fly between the two countries and the negotiations with the Indian government will take place next week in the Emirate.
The ministry of civil aviation, therefore, is preparing an estimate on how many more seats between the two regions would be in the country's interest, for which they sought the views and requirements of domestic airlines.
While Air India asked for revising up the seats by 2,500 per week, IndiGo and SpiceJetBSE 0.66 % asked for enhancing the quota by 4,000-5,000 seats per week. "However, Jet Airways has asked for revision by a whopping 42,000 seats per week over and above the existing seats, a government official told ET.
Meanwhile, the aviation ministry officials declined to divulge the final number of seats that India would like to revise up between the two countries and said it has nothing to do with the Jet-Etihad deal.
"Indian carriers together are flying 10,000 seats per week to Abu Dhabi while their airline (Etihad) is using 12,000 to India. So, keeping the expansion plans of Indian airlines in mind, a revision of seats is required and has nothing to do with the deal," a ministry official said.
But Indian carriers think that Jet Airways' demand is actually a backhanded way to give more market access to Etihad, on the lines of Dubai-based Emirates.
"Allowing foreign carriers to invest in India is a good thing, but it turns out that they are not coming here to invest but to get bilateral share," an executive from an Indian airline said requesting complete anonymity.
Till date Gulf airlines, such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, which are gateway carriers, dominate air routes between India and the Middle East to an extent that 40% of total west-bound Indian traffic is routed through the Gulf.
Latest official statistics corroborate this showing how Emirates garnered a lion's share of the total Indian passengers in 2011-12 at 13.04% market share. Qatar follows next, while Etihad has the least share of Indian air traffic, which it is looking to increase and compete at a level with Emirates.
"Jet-Etihad combine's pattern of growth may become same as that of Emirates wherein Jet Airways' bilateral entitlements actually become Abu Dhabi's," global aviation consulting and research firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) South Asia CEO Kapil Kaul said.
ET had earlier reported how Gulf carrier Emirates has become the national carrier of sorts leaving Air India far behind in flying outbound passengers from the country.