PM's directive on India-Abu Dhabi air services agreement
New Delhi: The Prime Minister had last month directed that the India-Abu Dhabi air services agreement (ASA) should not be operationalised till it was discussed in the Union Cabinet.
"In the interest of wider consultations and greater transparency, the Prime Minister directed that the matter may be brought to the Cabinet for a decision before operationalising any agreements that may be arrived at by the government with the other party," according to a Prime Minister's Office note of June 13.
The PMO had raised concerns that although the MEA and the Minister of Commerce support the enhanacement of seats, DEA had reservations, also airlines and airports were opposed to this enhancement due to diversion of Europe and North Amercia-bound traffic to Abu Dhabi.
It had also raised concerns that if an Abu Dhabi-based airline acquires Jet Airways, this entity would control the bulk of the seats in this route and there would be a possibility of similar requests from other countries.
The note said Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had said these concerns were taken into account while arriving at a consensus.
"His (Singh's) considered view was that these concerns would not have any adverse impact on the Indian aviation sector. The Minister was of the view that the additional capacity would enhance traffic to AAI airports where AAI has invested substantial funds in capacity enhancement and while allocating additional entitlements, requests of all domestic airlines would be kept in mind," it said.
The Minister said the air traffic market was growing rapidly and there would be a need to enhance entitlements in any case.
A Group of Ministers, led by Finance Minister P Chidambram, had on April 22 approved additional entitlement upto 40,000 seats per week in addition to the current entitlement in a phased manner over the next few years, according to the minutes of the meeting held on April 22, with regard to the bilateral relations of India with the UAE (Abu Dhabi) including air services matter.
The GoM had also agreed for third country code-sharing (code sharing with designated airline of third country that is other than India) and Abu Dhabi and domestic code-sharing may be allowed.
Following the GoM meeting, Chidambram had met the Prime Minister and apprised him of the developments.