Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh defended the government's decision to increase seat entitlements in the India-Abu Dhabi sector as a sweetener to the stake deal between Jet Airways saying the move was made for passengers' sake.
In an exclusive interview to CNBC TV18, the minister said international passenger traffic from India is expected to increase to 45 lakh in 5 years from the present 28 lakh.
No Indian airline can on its own cater to such a huge increase in traffic, he said adding passengers can not benefit without bilateral arrangements.
Protests have been growing against the planned four-fold increase in seat capacity in the India-Abu Dhabi sector over three years as other airlines feel it will adversely impact their profitability.
"Jet Airways is literally the Trojan Horse right now carrying Etihad inside it," a senior official from Air India was quoted as saying in an Economic Times report.
He said the combination is going to be worse than Emirates, the other Middle East carrier which has similarly huge bilateral rights and dominates the Dubai sector.
However, Minister Singh sought to dismiss all allegations of favouring a single airline. He said the UAE bilateral pact is not aimed at to favouring just one airline and clarified that no assurance was given to the UAE on bilateral rights before the deal between Jet and Etihad was announced.
He exuded confidence that Jet-Etihad deal is good for passenger and the aviation sector as such as it will lead to competition and efficiency.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 19:20:25 IST