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Sahara yet to get okay for Lanka flight
BS Economy Bureau in New Delhi | November 08, 2003 12:33 IST
The inaugural flight of Air Sahara between New Delhi and Colombo, scheduled for Sunday, has been put off.
Chief Executive Officer of Air Sahara U K Bose acknowledged that the airline had not received clearance for the flight from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The flight would have set the ball rolling for the airline's venture into the international market.
Bose said the airline had re-scheduled the inaugural flight to November 14. Sources said the DGCA needed at least a week's notice to clear a flight, whereas the Air Sahara proposal was received only on Thursday.
The sources said another reason for the delay at the DGCA end was the fact that the flight could disrupt the domestic schedule of Air Sahara, which had not been addressed properly.
In turn, Bose said whereas the Sri Lanka Tourism Board had welcomed the proposal, the venture had run into rough weather with local authorities here.
The airline also cancelled a press conference called this evening to announce the flight. Air Sahara along with Jet Airways had received the government's permission to fly to Sri Lanka as a fallout of discussions between Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
This is the first time that private airlines have been given international flight rights.
In return, Sri Lankan Airlines has been offered daily flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
In addition unlimited access would be available for flights to 18 tourist destinations in India.
A decision was taken to do away with the existing system of commercial agreements between designated airlines of the two countries.
As a part of this measure and to increase connectivity private domestic airlines have been allowed rights to fly to Sri Lanka.