My Letters – GULF NEWS – Air India cancels flights to Gulf sector

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My Letters – GULF NEWS – Air India cancels flights to Gulf sector

Services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat and Kuwait are affected by the decision.

By Anjana Sankar, Senior Reporter Published: 20:14 September 4, 2010 Reader comments (1)

Flights to some of the sectors are curtailed, and not cancelled. It is mainly due to commercial reasons as Air India is already operating flights to all these sectors, said Abhay Pathak, the regional head of Air India. Image Credit: Gulf News Dubai: Passengers have been left high and dry after India’s budget airline Air India Express announced plans to cut down more than 200 services to destinations including the Gulf Sector.

Services to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat and Kuwait are affected by the decision.

Abhay Pathak, the regional head of Air India told Gulf News the decision has been taken considering both operational and commercial reasons.

“Flights to some of the sectors have been curtailed, and not cancelled. It is mainly due to commercial reasons as Air India is already operating flights to all these sectors,” said Pathak.

He added that the decision was also taken because the unavailability of pilots. “The licensing of expat pilots is a long procedure and the needed numbers are not available now. Moreover we need to curtail the flying hours in order to continue the services,” he said.

According to him, only the daily flight to Cochin-Sharjah has been knocked off. “From Sharjah to to Thiruvananthapuram sector, four-day week service is cut down to two days. Likewise, for the flights in the Calicut sector, the daily service is reduced to three days a week,” said Pathak, adding that the number of cancellations quoted in the media is exaggerated.

For Air India Express operating from Dubai, flights to Thiruvananthapuram will operate six days a week and not daily. Flights to Lucknow have been reduced to three days a week from the current four days.

Pathak said all the passengers who are booked to these sectors “will be taken care of and will not be affected by the cancellations.”

According to reports quoting airline officials from India, the decision will come into effect from next week. “Around 203 flights (73 from Kozhikode, 74 from Thiruvananthapuram and 56 from Kochi) stand cancelled

My comments as follows:

As a NRI, the news that Air India cancels flights to Gulf Sector is a great relief. In fact, they should entirely stop the operations to GULF region rather than knocking down a selected sector and reducing frequency of others as announced by regional head of the national carrier of India. This step will surely reduce confusion in the minds of thousands of Indian expats from this region before they plan there holiday or emergency travel as to whether they opt for Air India as their preferred travel partner. Not any more in two minds and will never be too, if this attitude of Air India continues towards one of it’s maximum revenue generating sector. Whatever be the reason explained for this sudden reduction of flights just before the expat families return, this will definitely cause severe difficulties to the planning and scheduling of their return before the school starts after Eid holidays. Surprisingly, all representatives of the political parties show a harmonious honeymoon in keeping their silence towards these acts of Air India. Indeed for several of them, travel by Air India has never been an automatic choice whenever they travel out off the state even to other states or abroad destination. It is high time that regional organisations should raise their voice collectively and from, now on completely refrain from using Air India to protest against this step motherly treatment towards southern sector of India.


Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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