• Grant of new slots at Pune airport creates rift between airlines, AAI

    Indian carriers are not just fighting with their peers for market share but also for landing and take-off slots at capacity constrained Indian airports.

    This latest reason behind the rift is the new slots at Pune airport, which Vistara, AirAsia and Air India were awarded, overlooking requests from airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJetBSE 1.68 %, Jet AirwaysBSE 0.55 % and GoAir.

    The Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) has objected to Airports Authority of India’s (AAI’s) move to allocate three pairs of new slots at Pune airport to Vistara, AirAsia and Air India.

    In a missive to AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra and aviation secretary RN Choubey, FIA has said that “they find this unilateral allocation unfair as well as breaking the thumb rule of fair competition, the level-playing field”.

    “We would, therefore, request the authority to kindly allow FIA member airlines an equal opportunity and a level-playing field in respect of these additional slots created at PNQ as ideally, the FIA member airlines who were earlier refused due to non-availability should be the one to be given the preference. Given past rejections, certain airlines had also stopped applying for new/additional slots due to obvious reasons,” read the letter written by Ujjway Dey, associate director of FIA.

    IndiGo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways constitute FIA. Air India, which was earlier a member, pulled out of FIA.

    Newer carriers such as Vistara and AirAsia, that wish to become a part of FIA, have not been allowed entry into the group, as FIA has challenged their creation in courts in India.

    According to the procedures, the airport operator allocates slots in consultation with all stakeholders. Pune airport is an Indian Ai Force airport that is operated by AAI.

    AAI officials, however, said that they focus on evenly allocating slots and not on new or old airlines.

    “We, as an airport operator, cannot discriminate between one carrier and the other. The slots were allocated to airlines with least presence at the airport, so that it’s evenly distributed among airlines,” said an AAI official, who did not want to be identified. Frans Nielsen Jersey

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