Friday, February 17, 2017

Air India leaves Tiruchy skies open for private operators

At a time when private players are gearing up to tap the potential of the Tiruchy-Chennai sector, the decision by State-owned operator Air India Express to wind up operations to the State capital has left fliers flummoxed. Having operated in the sector for over eight years, Air India Express announced last week that it was winding up the domestic service and cited operational restraints as the reason.

Air India Express operated its last flight to Chennai from Tiruchy on February 14, flying with 30 passengers, and will henceforth have services only to Singapore.

Considered the cheapest airline among the ones operating in the sector, the cancellation of services to Chennai has put flyers in discomfort. Several passengers who spoke to Express expressed concern that the decision would pave way for private carriers.

The announcement by Air India Express will directly help Jet Airways and the soon-to-be-launched  Air Carnival. Jet Airways operates three services to Chennai a day with tickets rates in  `4,500-`5,000 range, whereas Air Carnival would offer tickets at `1,499 as introductory fares.

Air India Express used to service Malaysia, which was eventually extended to Singapore with a touchdown in Chennai. Now, even the Malaysia flight has been scrapped, leaving the doors open for Air Asia and Malindo Air, which have at least six services on a daily basis with full capacity.
17/02/17 Harish Murali/The New Indian Express