Private carrier Air Sahara will commence operations to Kuala Lumpur from March 19 and hopes to get government clearance to start services to the Middle East by January 2008, a top airline official said.
"The three-year restriction imposed by the government for private airlines to operate services to the Gulf sector ends by December this year," Air Sahara president Alok Sharma said.
Air Sahara, Jet Airways and other private carriers were unable to operate flights to the Middle East due to government policy, he said, adding the airline was expecting to get necessary approvals by January next year.
Malaysia will be Air Sahara's fifth international destination after Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore and Maldives.
The Delhi-Kuala Lumpur flight will fly to Singapore on its return trip to Delhi. The airline also launched a daily Thiruvananthapuram-Male flight to the Maldives from March 10 and offers connections from Delhi and Kochi to Male, he said.
The airline also plans to tap the holiday market and business travellers. "Kerala is a premium holiday market in the country and Air Sahara is going to play an important role in the sector," he said.
On competition private airlines would face after the Air India-Indian merger, he said the merger was 'good' for the country. "Air Sahara had decent passenger load. We are doing well and I do not see it as a threat".
Asked if Air Sahara would operate services to Kozhikode, he said they would continue to explore new destinations.
On whether there were plans to start services to Lakshadweep, he said though it was a good destination, there were no plans now to operate services to Agatti. The airline, which now flies to 32 destinations, has 27 leased aircraft.
On turnover, he said business had touched about Rs 2,200 crore (Rs 22 billion) in 2006-07 fiscal.
© Copyright 2019 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.