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Few takers for first IA flight to Lahore

A Correspondent in New Delhi | January 08, 2004 17:51 IST

IC 845, Indian Airlines' first flight to Lahore in two years, is scheduled to take off on Friday, January 9, but may have only a handful of passengers.

A source close to Indian Airlines told rediff.com that an IA official had informed him that only nine people have booked tickets so far on the 145-seat Airbus A-320.

"It may not be economically viable to operate the flight because the Pakistan high commission has not issued enough visas," the source said. Pakistan high commission officials in New Delhi declined comment as the official spokesperson is in Islamabad.

However, Indian Airlines Director, Public Relations, Anup Srivastava denied that the airline is planning to cancel the flight.

"At present the flight is on schedule," Srivastava said. "It will leave New Delhi at 1345 IST and reach Lahore at 1445 Pakistan Standard Time. The same aircraft will leave Lahore at 1500 PST and reach New Delhi by 1630 IST."

"From New Delhi, there is a train to Pakistan, there is a bus to Pakistan, and now a plane to Pakistan. So how can you come to the conclusion that visas are not being issued? Why don't you wait till tomorrow to find out how many passengers are flying on the first flight?" Srivastava asked.

Indian Airlines and Pakistan International Airlines discontinued operations to each other's countries on January 1, 2002, after the terrorist attack on Parliament. India blamed Pakistan for the attack and asked PIA to close down its operations. Indian Airlines also halted its flights to Pakistan. Indians who wanted to fly to Pakistan flew to Dubai, and then took a flight to Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistanis who wanted to fly to India.

PIA resumed its flights to New Delhi and Mumbai from January 1 and 2 respectively.

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