The exorbitant increase in Delhi airport charges and demand for a hike by other major airports has forced Malaysian Airlines to rethink its India strategy.
"The hike in airport charges at Delhi has jeopardised our plans to increase flights from here. Other airports are also demanding a hike, so if it's not manageable, then we have to rethink our strategy," Mohamed Sathik Ali, the airline's general manager (North India), told PTI.
Though the airline has no current plans to invest in any Indian carrier, it also did not discount such an opportunity in the future.
The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) had allowed Delhi International Airport Limited to increase overall airport charges for facilities like landing, parking and housing by a staggering 346 per cent for next two years.
Recently, Mumbai Airport has sent a proposal for a 660% rise in aeronautical charges to the AERA, and after modernisation of Chennai and Kolkata airports, operator Airports Authority of India has also asked for increase in charges.
"India is a key market for us. We are here to grow. We are not opposed to an increase in charges but it should be manageable," Ali said, adding, "Only if we grow, we will be able to bring more tourists to India."
Malaysian Airlines, which was operating 40 flights a week from five Indian cities, has increased it to 50 from September.
Asked about plans to invest in any Indian carrier following the government's FDI announcement in aviation sector, Ali said, "At the moment we don't have a concrete plan but we are not discounting it. If in future we see an opportunity we would definitely go for it."
The airline has plans to operate from Kochi, Kolkata and Ahmadabad by next year and hopes to increase its frequency to 70 weekly flights by operating twice daily from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderbad and Bangalore.
"We have partnered with Malaysian government's 'Visit Malaysia' campaign for 2013-014 and under this, a Malaysian food festival is on in the national capital till October 24," Ali said, adding people can enjoy exotic Malay food.