Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Direct flights between Dubai and India’s diamond hub set to boost trade

Finally, direct flights between the world’s two biggest diamond trade centers will take off next week to add some sparkle on the faces of dealers in precious stones on both sides.

Air India Express, the international budget arm of India’s flagship carrier airline, is all set to launch a thrice-a-week service to connect Surat, the global hub of diamond cutting and polishing industry in western Indian state of Gujarat, with Dubai, the second largest market in the world for rough diamond trading.

According to local parliamentarian C.R. Paatil, the last stumbling block for the jinxed project will be removed when the country’s diamond city is accorded the customs notified status by the federal government within in a few days.

The international flights between the two diamond hubs were to be started from May 15 last but it took one year to expand the runway from 2,250 meters to 2,950 meters and provide the required funds and 68-strong immigration staff to the airport of Surat where some 80 per cent of the world's rough diamonds are processed in its 4,500-odd small and large cutting-and-polishing units.

An Air India Express official told Al Arabiya English that the airline would deploy 189-seater Boeing 737-800 aircraft and expected a 50-60 per cent seat occupancy on the route initially, adding that Surat would be air-linked to also Sharjah by October.

As per the rough estimate provided by the tours and travel association, around 400,000 people from Surat and south Gujarat travelled to international destinations during 2015-16. The passenger traffic from the region is increasing by almost 20-25 per cent every year.
24/04/18 Mahesh Trivedi/Al Arabiya

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