Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Airlines line up new flights as govt allows regular international ops

Indian customers will have wider travel options as airlines introduce new flights from the end of March.

While Malaysian Airlines and Turkish Airlines are resuming passenger flights to India after a gap of two years, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa Group will scale up their existing service in a graded manner in the summer schedule.

Emirates, the largest foreign airline operating in India, too, is looking to restore its pre-Covid-19 schedule of 172 flights per week. This comes as the civil aviation ministry announced the resumption of scheduled international flights from March 27.

“Malaysia Airlines will steadily increase capacity to the cities we operate in — Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad — based on demand. We are looking to achieve approximately 70 per cent of our overall pre-Covid-19 capacity by the end of 2022,” the airline said in a statement.

Turkish Airlines is resuming its daily service to Mumbai and Delhi and offering one to two nights of free hotel accommodation in Istanbul for passengers with lengthy transit time.

Prior to the pandemic, India had direct air connectivity with around 60 countries. At present, there are air transport bubble agreements with 37 countries. While the bubble arrangements allow for scheduled flights, there are restrictions on capacity and the sale of tickets to onward destinations. The exception is Sharjah, which has more flights at present than pre-pandemic. This will change and Sharjah, too, will see a reduction in flights with the start of scheduled international flights from March 27.

“We are cautiously ramping up flights,” said a Lufthansa executive. Currently, Lufthansa and Swiss operate 22 flights per week to India and this will progressively increase to 42 between July and October. The airline will resume flying to Chennai from May. Similarly, Air France-KLM will increase weekly flights from 17 to 30 from May.

09/03/22 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

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