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A-I to increase flights to Saudi Arabia
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi | January 02, 2003 19:09 IST
Air-India is going to increase the frequency of its flights to Saudi Arabia from the current 24 a week to 31 from the summer schedule of this year.
This is an increase of 900 seats. Civil aviation ministry officials said this was the result of the latest rounds of bilateral negotiations with Saudi Arabia.
As part of the negotiations, Saudia Airlines also gets three new flights to Kochi. Currently the Saudi Arabian airlines flies to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. Saudia has 20 services, that is 7,700 seats, per week to India.
As part of the new air service agreement, the earlier cap on frequencies to Riyadh has been removed.
From March 31, 2003 the national carrier will be flying nine flights to Riyadh from the current six.
The current operations to Jeddah and Damam would be increased from 10 to 13 and eight to nine, respectively.
Air-India would simultaneously increase the number of points in India that are connected with Saudi Arabia.
From the summer schedule, the airline will connect Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Kochi and Hyderabad with Saudi Arabia. Currently only Delhi and Mumbai are connected.
The seat capacity has been increased from 7,700 per week to 8,600. The recent round of bilaterals have also removed the restriction on the type of aircraft that Air-India operates to Saudi Arabia.
The airline had been allowed to operate the 400 seater Boeing -747 on this sector, now it can operate the 200 seater Airbus A-310.
This will enable Air-India to divert the B-747 to long haul flights to the Frankfurt and Newark sectors.The Saudi Arabia sector is an important one for the national carrier as it notches up one million passenger per year. Saudi Arabia is home to 1.4 million Indians, which is the largest expatriate community in the kingdom.