RTI reveals PMO had doubts regarding ASA with Abu Dhabi
On April 24, 2013 India had signed a bilateral Air Services Agreement (ASA) with Abu Dhabi which sought to increase the number of flights between the two countries from 13,700 to 50,000 each week in phases over a period of three years.
Many parliamentarians had objected to the increase in air traffic rights citing that it was signed after the Jet-Etihad deal through which the Abu Dhabi-based carrier would pick up 24 per cent equity stake in Jet. The objections prompted the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to issue a statement which refuted the reports about disagreements within the government on the matter and stated that the Jet- Etihad deal was a matter between two private parties and not the two governments.
However, a note released by the PMO and accessed under the Right to information (RTI) Act, has revealed that the PMO had raised concerns regarding the reduction of direct long-haul traffic from India and a negative impact on any hub creation in India. Later on these concerns were put to rest by the Civil Aviation Ministry and the Commerce Ministry which highlighted the positive aspects of direct foreign air traffic to be generated from Tier-II cities and the generation of confidence among foreign investors.