Foreign airlines pulling out of India as economy slows and airports hike fees

Japan Air Lines (JAL) has announced a reduction in its Tokyo New Delhi flight from a daily to four times a week.

JAL joins a large list of foreign carriers like Aeroflot, Austrian Airlines, Dragonair, Virgin, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Delta, KLM, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Sri Lankan, Air France, Lufthansa, and Malaysia Airlines, who have either withdrawn or cut back on their Indian operations over the last six months.

While the slowing economy is a reason, experts give significant attribution to the hikes in airport fees at a time when the rest of Asia Pacific airports are lowering their fees in a bid to attract or retain airlines and stimulate air travel.

Readers will recall that recently the Government permitted the private airport operators at Mumbai and Delhi to impose high Airport Development Fees, this on top of a 10% across the board increase in airport fees early this year.

Another reason for the withdrawals has been the massive capacity expansion by middle-east carriers like Emirates. One might even consider it capacity dumping.

Foreign airlines are also complaining of discriminatory treatment at the hands of many of the airport operators. They claim that despite being prompt on payment, the domestic airlines are being given discounts on dues even when they pay 90 days late.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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