Cashing in on the union aviation ministry's surprise gift
of a three-month open air policy, foreign airlines operating
from Kerala have applied for increasing frequencies during
December, January and February.
capacity increase during these month, coinciding with
the Haj season and the yearend rush, will come as a boon
for passengers from the state who face the problem of
getting reservations during this period.
most majors have finalised their proposals, others like
Emirates will finalise it within a week. Airlines that
have applied for additional frequency include Oman Air,
Saudia and Qatar Airways.
Air has applied for six more flights from Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.
The flights have been proposed to connect Muscat with
Kerala on every Friday during the three-month window.
"The policy was announced at a short notice, hence
mobilising suitable aircraft will be a problem. But still
we are hopeful of getting additional flights. A similar
request has been placed by Chennai and Mumbai offices,
too," say Oman Air sources.
has applied for an additional flight to Jeddah. A top
official of the airline says the additional flight will
help tide over the shortage of seats it normally faces
due to the operation of smaller aircraft. "We operate
777 instead of 747 during this period. But if we get an
additional frequency, then this problem can be solved.
We are also hopeful of getting a slice of the Haj traffic."
Qatar Airways is also looking at adding two more flights
to its current schedule. "It will help ease the Haj
rush as well as the Christmas traffic. We have applied
for the Kochi-Doha route, and if we get the nod there
will be daily flights," says an official.
Gulf Air sources say they might not apply for any additional
frequency as "we have already received a sanction
for operating one more flight from mid-November. It will
depend on the inbound traffic. We will monitor the situation
and may decide for applying a new flight later."
airlines might have planned and requested for additional
connections if the centre had announced the policy a month
back. "It is not easy to mobilise an aircraft at
such a short notice. But it is a bold initiative by the
Indian government. We are trying our best to tap the offer,"
says an Emirates official.
airlines expect an increased tourist traffic given the
season in Dubai and other emirates. But it is the Haj
pilgrims who will benefit the most from this. Many airlines
also see this as a move by the aviation ministry to test
the waters before framing the aviation policy, expected
early next year.