Dubai: Emirates President Tim Clark urged India to embrace a so-called Open Skies accord with the airline’s home country that would give carriers greater access to each other’s market, amid rising competition from the likes of Air India and Indigo.
“There is a need to increase air access,” Clark said during a briefing with journalists at the CAPA India Aviation Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday. “Demand is so strong out there.”
While Clark said Indian carriers stand to earn as much as $1 billion in revenue if the country were to provide greater international access, his quest for Open Skies underscores’ Emirates desire to protect and expand its position in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets. Such a move would allow the carrier to tap smaller Indian towns and cities for growth, as Air India and other carriers focus on major cities.
Air India is in the process of reinventing itself with the help of a giant aircraft order, potentially chipping away at Emirates’ dominance on westbound travel from India. Air India has the advantage of operating non-stop flights to the US and Europe, while Gulf airlines have to transit through their hubs in Doha and Dubai.
The UAE is one of the biggest overseas markets for Indian carriers, and some 30 per cent of the workforce is from India, Clark said. Indian carriers operate more than 300 weekly flights to Dubai, he said.
The Open Skies accord grants foreign airlines flexible access to other countries and allows them to make intermediate stops there to put down and take on passengers. The policy would also remove restrictions on how many frequencies, seats and cities Emirates can serve.
Clark reiterated that Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, expects to receive its first Boeing Co. 777x-9 widebody model in the middle of 2025, which would represent a five-year delay from the previous handover schedule. He also said that he expects supply-chain disruptions that have hobbled the industry for more than a year to ease by the middle of next year.