Other airlines in the south Asian country are also expected to follow the national carrier to temporarily suspend their flights to Britain and other European countries (Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images).
Radhakrishna N S
INDIA’S national carrier Air India will launch the Delhi-Toronto direct flight on the occasion of the World Tourism Day on September 27 despite facing the threat of privatisation due to mounting debts.
The airline is also planning to launch a direct flight to Nairobi, Kenya sometime in October due to immense tourism potential in that area.
“We will launch Delhi-Toronto non-stop flight from September 27 on the occasion of the World Tourism Day,” Air India (AI) Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Ashwini Lohani said onboard the Indore-Dubai maiden flight.
AI 903 is the first international flight from Madhya Pradesh providing the much-needed connectivity to the Gulf and beyond to the people of the state.
“We are also planning to launch a direct flight to Nairobi sometime in October in view of immense tourism potential in that area,” Lohani said.
Though the AI is facing a debt of nearly Rs 600 billion, the spirit of its CMD is very high and is taking all possible steps including reducing operational costs to keep the national carrier afloat.
Air India also plans to introduce Bhopal-Bengaluru flight in October to fulfil the major demand of the people.
He also said that after Dubai flight, AI will also start it’s services for Bangkok from Indore to meet the popular demand of the fun-loving people of the city (Indore) which is the country’s cleanest city.
From Indore, Air India is operating a 162-seater A320 neo aircraft, which will fly three times a week directly to Dubai on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday while from Dubai it will fly on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, he said.
“At present, AI has a capacity of 4,500 seats for Dubai and it plans to enhance it to 5,800 seats by winter by starting four more flights for the Gulf nation,” an AI official said.
The new flights will commence shortly from Kolkata, Hyderabad, Kunnoor and Kochi during the winter session which starts from October 10.
Indore-born Sunish Kumar Bhargava will be the commander of this maiden international flight from his home city, the official said.
“The flight will take a route via Kaccha (Gujarat) to fly over the Arabian Sea to reach Muscat, Oman to enter Dubai due to the closure of air space over Pakistan,” Bhargava said before entering the cockpit.
However, he clarified that it will not enhance the flying time.
From Dubai, people of Madhya Pradesh will be able to visit major tourist destinations in the world and the biggest city of the UAE with well-known cities like Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman and Al Ain all nearby.
Newly elected Indore MP, Shankar Lalwani in the presence of the CMD, Indore Mayor Malini Gaud and former Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan flagged-off the maiden international flight to Dubai from Indore.
An elated passenger, Aditya Dubey from Dewas, who is going for the first time to Dubai in the maiden international flight from Madhya Pradesh displayed handmade posters in-flight “Thanking Air India” for launching this flight and took photos with the CMD.
The authorities have made elaborate arrangements for welcoming passengers of this maiden flight by rolling out the red carpet.