NEW DELHI, India - The Istanbul-based Turkish Airlines has sought Indian aviation ministry's approval to extend the bilateral limits to enable it to increase its number of flights between Turkey and India.
âWe want to increase the number of flights, routes that we fly from India. For this, the bilateral limits need to be extended. We, through our government, are trying to negotiate with Indian aviation authorities to allow us to fly more flights,â said Adnan Aykac, general manager (northen and eastern India), Turkish Airlines.
The carrier has exhausted the bilateral limits with India. At present, the airline is allowed to fly 14 passenger and 14 cargo flights per week and flies seven flights each from Delhi and Mumbai. For cargo, the airline flies only twice a week from Delhi and Mumbai.
The carrier is now looking at adding new routes like Bangalore and Hyderabad to its network. Even for cargo, it is planning to increase frequencies. âOur load factor for passenger flights is around 95%. The yields per seat have gone up by 5% and we see about 20% growth in traffic from India. We will add more flights and routes, once the bilateral limits are increased,â said Aykac. The airline carried 3 lakh passengers last year from India last year and enjoys almost 85% of the market share between the two nations. The only deterrent that the airline sees, which could affect the fares and, subsequently, the traffic, is the recent airport charges hike. Though, Aykac said, it was not such a big issue as these things keep happening globally, it would certainly affect the profit margins of the airlines, which, on an average, are not more than 3-5%.
âAny increase in airport charges would definitely affect that. Through our cost management, we will try to absorb most of the hikes.However, how much and when, would be decided only by the headquarters,â he said. According to him, the hike in the airport charges would also affect the Delhi International Airport's (DIAL) plan to established the airport as a hub. âThough, geographically, Delhi is the best bet to be the aviation hub, but the increase in the airport charges would make it less viable for airlines to make it a hub for their operations,â he said.