Thursday, June 27, 2019

Air India conducts Dubai flight ‘minus survey’

Calcutta: Air India did not conduct a proper market survey before announcing its flight between the city and Dubai, airline sources and travel agents said on Wednesday.

The government-owned airline announced on Tuesday that it would operate a flight four days a week on the Calcutta-Dubai route, where Emirates airline operates.

The Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Air India’s decision had prompted sources to convey to this newspaper that the national carrier had almost finalised plans a few months ago to introduce a direct flight between Calcutta and London.

But the Centre finally decided to give the route to Bangalore. The Bangalore-London flight, which sources have attributed to political reasons, was launched in November last year.

“No proper market survey was done to ascertain the viability of the Calcutta-Dubai flight. The decision came as a surprise even to us,” an Air India official said.

Travel agents said the airline had not sought their opinion on the Dubai flight.

“Usually, any airline planning to operate on a new international route speaks to the tour operators’ bodies about the market size and how to make it viable. But in case of Air India’s Dubai flight, there was no such talk,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman, east, Travel Agents Federation of India.

Air India officials refused to comment but said the Calcutta-Dubai route would be viable.

Sources in the aviation industry and officials at Calcutta airport said around 35 per cent of the passengers of the Emirates flight, on an average, end their journey in Dubai. The rest board connecting flights to destinations in Europe, the US and other places.

“For the proposed Calcutta-London flight, there were lots of deliberations and the schedule was almost finalised. But suddenly the decision was changed,” an official said.
27/06/19  Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph
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