Yearend lure: Foreign airlines apply for increased frequencies

Kochi: 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.

The 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.

While 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.

Oman 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.

Saudia 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."

Similarly, 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.