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DUBAI: After bringing to India the double decker Airbus A-380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft, Emirates Airlines is looking at expanding its operations in the booming country which is considered by the firm as its second biggest hub after Dubai.
“India is a very big market which has a lot of potential for the next five years. China, India and Brazil are the future market.
“Last year, it was exceptional and everybody suffered. I believe the load from India helped us reduce the effect of the recession. There was double digit growth in India last year and hence India is top of our priority,” Majid Al Mualla, Emirates Senior Vice-President (Commercial Operations West Asia and Indian Ocean) told PTI here.
As per the bilateral agreements between the two countries, there are a total of 54,000 seats and the current load factor for the airline hovers at about 83 per cent.
With business “back to normal” after recessions, the USD 11.8 billion Airline is looking at a possible growth of 10-15 per cent in the load factor besides hiring more staff for operations in India.
“By end of 2009, we saw business coming back even though people were talking about three-four years to recover. I think it was earlier than everybody expected. And right now, we are in a stage that we can say that business is back to normal for Emirates,” Mualla said.
The airline currently operates 184 weekly flights from 10 destinations in the country and is looking at the possibility of opening new destinations.
As per the bilateral agreement, there are six more additional points that they could operate from including Amristar, Mangalore, Trichy, Goa and Coimbatore.
“We have a long wish-list not just for India but different parts of the world. We are currently operating from 10 destinations in India but if you look at the growth prospect in India, then these 10 destinations are not enough. There is a huge opportunity for all airlines to operate more points in India,” the senior Emirates official said.
He said once the airline achieves this year’s target, it will add flights to existing network and expand the routes.
The Emirates Group has about 10,400 Indians working for it with about 900 in India. The airline is now looking at hiring more especially for its call centre in India which has a strength of about 500.
“As of now we are having about 900 people working in India but this number will go up. We are hiring more people in our call centre and as soon as we open lounges, we will have more people,” he said.
Mualla said the airline is looking at a growth of 15 per cent in passenger load during the current financial year.
“It is not just the traditional load from India to the Middle-East. We have seen a tremendous growth to US, Europe and even to leisure destinations. There is lot of mix of traffic through India and this is good,” he said adding, “We are looking at a growth of 15 per cent in traffic during the current financial year from India.”