Aviation

Air India Express may stop flying on Pune-Dubai route

PUNE: An Air India Express flight covering the Pune-Dubai route may soon stop operations about 11 years after it started operations.

The flight — the first international one from the city — has been making losses, a top official of the company said. Air India Express is a subsidiary company of Air India that is up for disinvestment, reports The Times of India.

“We are losing a lot of money on the flight. However, we are yet to make up our minds. We should be able to take a final call in a week or two. SpiceJet has got daily flights from Pune to Dubai,” K. Shyamsundar, the CEO of Air India Express, told TOI.

The official admitted that bookings from November onwards were not being accepted. “The bookings on the flight are open until October-end. However, we have stopped taking bookings for November,” the official added.

Sources said bookings being stopped is the first step of a company looking to stop flight operations.

“I was trying to book the flight to Dubai. I plan on travelling in November. However, when I couldn’t find this flight to make my booking, I wrote to the customer care support of Air India Express. I got a message that said there is no flight available between the Pune-Dubai sector after October. It seems, the officials have already decided on it. For the Pune airport, which has got just four international direct flights, this is bad news,” Arun Khatri, a Pune-based businessman told TOI.

Though Pune airport authorities had said that they are encouraging airlines to start international operations from Pune, no airline company has yet finalized the plans for the same.

An official said, “We do not have clear information about the Air India Express flight, but it is a fact that airlines have not been very keen to start international flights from Pune despite encouragement. However, we are hopeful… any airline can come out with an announcement soon.” An official said since Dubai is the gateway to the West, fewer direct flights to the destination from Pune was a trend that needed to be arrested.

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