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Gulf asks India to increase flights as GCC, Indian officials meet in Saudi

Emirates, Jazeera and Turkish Airlines want India to allow more flights, but Indian authorities told Reuters they have no plans to do so.

India will not increase the number of flights that can arrive from the Gulf despite calls from regional airlines, Reuters reported on Tuesday. 

The United Arab Emirates wants India to increase the number of seats available between the two countries from 65,000 a week to 115,000. India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told Reuters an increase is not being considered at present. 

The president of the Dubai government-owned Emirates airline, Tim Clark, told the CAPA India Aviation Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday that the limit should be increased. The chief executive of Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways, Rohit Ramachandran, also called for an increase of the air traffic limit between India and Kuwait while speaking at the event, according to Reuters. 

Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi made similar remarks at CAPA, saying current availability between Turkey and India is insufficient to meet demand, the Turkish news outlet Daily Sabah reported. 

The CAPA India Aviation Summit is a major aviation event aimed at enhancing India’s air travel sector.

Why it matters: Flights between the Gulf and India are important due to the region’s large South Asian population. More than 3 million Indians live in the UAE, accounting for around 30% of the population. Another million or so live in Kuwait. A large number of Indians also travel to the Gulf for business and tourism. The UAE was Indian travelers’ top tourism destination in 2021. 

India is growing closer to Gulf countries. On Monday, senior officials from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held meetings with their Indian counterparts in the Saudi capital Riyadh. They discussed boosting cooperation regarding trade, investment, renewable energy, food security, health and information technology, the official Emirates News Agency reported. 

The GCC was India’s largest trading partner bloc in 2022. The UAE and India signed a free trade agreement in April of last year. The following August, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned mining company MA’ADEN signed export agreements with several Indian firms. 

Istanbul is also a major international transit hub. Turkish Airlines currently flies to Delhi and Mumbai in India.

Know more: The Saudi Public Investment Fund launched a new airline, Riyadh Air, last week. The airline will compete with Emirates, Qatar Airways and other Gulf airlines. 

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