Friday, September 04, 2020

Air India applies for West Bengal nod to operate flights between Kolkata and London twice a week

Kolkata: Air India has applied to the Bengal government for clearance of the proposed twice-a-week direct flight between Kolkata and London. The civil aviation ministry had on Wednesday announced the flights from September 16 to October 24 under the aegis of Vande Bharat Mission. Buoyed by the AI flight proposal, Emirates on Thursday announced relief flights between Dubai and Kolkata on September 16, 23 and 30, which are subject to approval by the state government.

An AI official said the airline had submitted the schedule for the London-Kolkata and return flights to the state and had sought its clearance to operate the 12 pairs of flights. Though the state has not reverted yet, sources said the flights were likely to be approved with the rider that all arriving passengers test negative prior to boarding.

The travel-trade industry is also hopeful that the state will approve the Vande Bharat flights as they view them as a precursor to restoration of regular AI flights on the sector. “Everyone, right from the CM to the chief secretary to travel agents’ associations in Kolkata have been pushing for a direct flight to London for years. We hope the opportunity is not squandered,” said a travel agent.

The airline has already started getting bookings for the flights in both Kolkata and London. Bengalis living in the UK are particularly excited about the prospect of a direct connection and many are considering a quick trip to Kolkata ahead of Durga Puja. While the London-Kolkata flights are proposed on Wednesday and Saturday, the return flights are on Thursday and Sunday.
Emirates said it wanted to operate three relief flights between Dubai and Kolkata in September. The flights have to follow the SOP of all Kolkata-bound passengers testing Covid-negative before boarding the flight.
04/09/20 Subhro Niyogi/Times of India
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