Sure but precisely my point. Why cap EK flights? Publish a negative list of airports and open the rest up.
You know, this is all based on an assumption that IF these caps are removed by the government, then Emirates (and other hallowed foreign carriers) will start flying to ALL eligible Indian airports.
Its hard to ignore that these airlines DO favour larger Indian airports. What would you say if, (were the Indian government to allow more seats to DXB) EK would simply dump more A380s and B777s to the bigger Indian airports it already serves, instead of flying from smaller airports which "deserve" more flights??
You and I are free to think highly of India's smaller airports, but these airlines know where their bacon (India-US transit traffic) is, and keep dropping hints.. EK dropped two in 2019.
1) AAI allowed wide-body aircraft to return to CCJ recently. Did Emirates return?? No. It sent FZ instead.
2) EK also recently shifted some flights from TRV (smaller city) to BLR (growing South Indian hub).
Removal of the cap will not benefit the country as many think it would.
But then, part of the reason that EK (And other gulf carriers) has so much Indian connecting traffic to India from Americas and Europe is because it flies to a lot of these smaller cities that were not previously accessible via one stop options. Big cities like BLR, BOM, DEL were always accessible via European carriers. The same cannot be said about cities like Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode etc. Not to mention, most Indian expats in the UAE are Malayalis.
From the time the ME3 rose to prominence in India (they've not existed forever), the bulk of their pax base has been O/D traffic from Kerala/South India. The proportion of EU/US transit traffic was (and still is) relatively smaller and not really the reason for them deploying multiple daily wide-bodies, IMO.
Indian-connecting traffic to US/EU has traditionally existed from Gujarat and Punjab as well. But we didn't see EK try to mount a similar scale of ops from those states, back in the day. I believe that's because these northern states did not have as large a population in the Gulf as the Keralites.
But a lot has changed since the arrival of LCCs globally. The O/D component on India Gulf can be serviced more cost effectively by narrow-body aircraft on short haul sectors. Meaning Wide-bodies can be diverted to where they matter the most.
What I have suggested is that there is a visible trend in the way EK has 're-distribute' their allotted weekly seats, and I am reading that trend to mean that they're prioritising the larger airports simply because there is a higher percentage of transit traffic/premium traffic from those cities. To cater to the smaller section of EU/NA transit traffic originating in smaller cities, EK has FlyDubai, and soon they'll have SpiceJet code-shares as well.
Merely because it made financial sense in the pre-IndiGo era for EK to fly three wide-bodies daily into TRV, doesn't mean we can safely assume that this arrangement will continue in perpetuity. Especially given the difficult times the entire industry is going through. The small section of transit travellers from smaller airports will be funnelled via FZ or SpiceJet code-shares.
Even the Singapore airlines group, which is also grappling with a seat-limit, shuffled around its India routes between Scoot and Singapore/Silkair to similar effect.
Another pointer is the Qatar Airways-Indigo collaboration last year, where QR placed one-way code-shares on 6E's India routes. This arrangement potentially allowed QR to "serve" each of the Two-dozen International airports in India merely by getting 6E to launch flights to DOH and have it codeshare the route with QR! It's similar to the hypothetical scenario where India removes caps for DXB and they have a free run of India's hinterland... The foreign carrier would jump at the opportunity of "serving" the "deserving" small airports/
However, what eventually happened is the code-share was executed to only three Indian routes. And those routes weren't small cities. The deal was designed to boost QRs inventory on established routes to fuel its US/EU operations..