The UAE government is working with its Indian counterparts to make air travel to the UAE cheaper for tourists and visitors, Dr Ahmed Al Banna, the UAE Ambassador to India, revealed during his visit to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), said a report.
Speaking to an audience of students, academics and journalists, Dr Al Banna stressed that Indians were now the second largest ethnic group of visitors to Dubai in terms of hotel room occupancy, WAM reported.
This figure is set to grow with an increase of available seats on flights in both directions, it said.
At present, there is a discrepancy between supply and demand for seats on flights from Indian airports to those in the UAE, said the report, citing Dr Al Banna.
“The current number of 1,068 flights between the two countries with a weekly capacity of 168,000 seats does not meet the demand,” he said.
“Four years ago, a business class seat from Delhi to Dubai cost approximately the equivalent in Indian rupees of $1,000. Now it costs about $2,000 because demand is rising but seat availability is still low,” Dr Al Banna said.
Under Indian rules, the open skies policy applies only to flights below 5,000 km radius. Since the flying distance between India and the UAE is shorter than the said radius, UAE air carriers are at a disadvantage compared to European and American carriers which fly beyond the 5,000 km ceiling and enjoy the benefits of open skies in capacity and flight frequency, the report said.
The UAE has progressively relaxed visa rules for Indians who wish to visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other locations for business, leisure or in transit stopovers. More steps are underway to increase two-way traffic air-traffic, Dr Al Banna added.