Air India, owned by Indian conglomerate Tata, will not be a threat to Dubai-based Emirates, according to airline President Tim Clark.

“Rather than considering Emirates as a threat to India, look at us as someone who is going to help Air India in doing all things it needs to do,” Indian financial daily Mint quoted Clark as saying.  

He stated that Emirates is in a “position to add value and support Air India’s growth”.

Air India has recently placed a record order of 470 aircraft, including 70 long-haul aircraft for direct flights to Europe and the Americas. A significant number of Indian passengers stopover in Dubai to fly to these continents.

Emirates, which has been pushing to increase flight operations to India since 2014, currently operates 66,000 seats for Dubai under the bilateral agreement between the two countries.

However, India is not looking at increasing air traffic rights for the United Arab Emirates, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told Reuters on Tuesday.

The airline currently flies to nine major cities in India but sees potential in launching direct flights to Tier-2 and 3 destinations such as Surat, Lucknow, and Amritsar.

Emirates shares its bilateral flying rights with low-cost flydubai.

UAE daily Gulf News reported that budget airline Air India Express will serve only flights to Tier-2 cities in India from the UAE.

Air India will curtail flights to Goa, Indore and Kozhikode, which means the airline will possibly operate to metro cities in India with Air India Express targeting the smaller cities, the newspaper said.

(Editing by Seban Scaria