India and UAE sign MoU to expand air services

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India and the United Arab Emirates have signed a memorandum of understanding that will nearly quadruple the number of airline seats available between the two countries.

Under the agreement, an additional 36,670 seats, on top of the current 13,600 weekly seats each way, will progressively be made available to carriers from both countries over three years.

The first additional 11,000 weekly seats will be made available this year, with 12,800 to be added in the winter 2014 schedule and the remaining 12,870 in the 2015 winter schedule.

Both countries have also agreed to extend third-country and domestic codeshares, and a change of gauge facility that will allow designated carriers on both sides to change the aircraft that are used on scheduled services, says India's ministry of civil aviation.

The UAE had also requested to open up Goa, Pune, Amritsar and Lucknow as points of call for its carriers, but this was rejected by India, adds the ministry.

The new MoU comes after Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways announced that it will be taking a 24% stake in Indian carrier Jet Airways and launching a new alliance between the two carriers in which Jet use Abu Dhabi as a "Gulf gateway" hub.