Indian expatriates and travellers to the Asian country will greatly benefit if a Qatar Airways’ formal request to provide additional seats to certain “high volume” routes during the peak summer season is accepted by the Indian government.

National carrier Qatar Airways recently submitted the request to Indian authorities to make available an "additional number of seats on certain high volume routes" such as Mumbai, New Delhi and Bengaluru, on a “temporary basis and without formal changes” to the current weekly seat capacity entitlement established under the 2009 Qatar-India bilateral aviation framework.

A Qatar Airways spokesperson confirmed to Gulf Times that the national carrier has “submitted a formal request to the Indian Authorities.”

Indian media reported that the withdrawal of some 28 weekly fights between Doha and two major metros - New Delhi/Mumbai (due to the grounding of Jet Airways) has increased pressure on the seat availability on Qatar - India routes.

Months before it got grounded, Jet Airways had stopped its services from Doha to the southern state of Kerala, home to a significant number of the nearly 700,000 Indian expatriates living in Qatar.

In its submission, Qatar Airways highlighted the lack of flying options to India through neighbouring countries in view of the “illegal airspace blockade” imposed on Qatar on June 5, 2017.

Indian news agency PTI quoted Qatar Airways and said, “The sudden reduction in the number of seats offered between Doha and various Indian cities, combined with the imminent peak in traffic demand due to summer vacation, are already putting enormous upward pressure on costs in a restricted market that is unlikely to offer new seats or redistribute existing capacity in sufficient numbers to meet demand.”

Qatar Airways’ temporary contingency plan, which has been formally submitted to the relevant Indian authorities, aims to offer a viable travelling alternative to thousands of Indian families that otherwise would be left without concrete options. “Without our contingency plan, Indian travellers will be forced to either choose expensive last-minute tickets or complicated and burdensome re-routings,” the national airline said.

In a statement to the Indian media, the airline said, “As the summer peak is about to begin, Indian expats are anxious to visit their families and friends in the homeland.”

Indian expatriates were recently dealt another blow by leading private airline IndiGo, which temporarily halted daily non-stop services to Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) from May 1 without citing reasons.

When contacted by Gulf Times earlier, C Leekha, director, corporate communications at IndiGo Airlines, said, “With high demand due to holiday season approaching and commercial viability reasons, IndiGo flights operating on Ahmedabad and Trivandrum to Doha routes will now fly out of Mumbai and Delhi respectively.”

However, the airline’s online bookings to Thiruvananthapuram and Ahmedabad non-stop from Doha are open, again from August 1.

The IndiGo official did not say whether the decision to halt services to Thiruvananthapuram and Ahmedabad was temporary or not.

Many Qatar-based passengers are dismayed by the IndiGo’s decision as it is “affecting their travel plans” during the peak summer season.

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