Air India Express will return to its normal flight schedule next week after it cancelled and delayed flights to the Gulf because of a shortage of pilots over the holidays. About 25 flights were affected on Christmas Day alone from Kerala, including some destined for Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat and Doha, according to Indian media. A sales representative based in Abu Dhabi of the low-cost airline was unable to say how many flights to GCC destinations were affected, but attributed the disruptions to "commander shortage".
"From the 10th of January onwards, it will be better," she said. The delays forced thousands of travellers to make last-minute changes to their plans or not travel at all. "Utter confusion prevailed," the Express India newspaper reported, when the stranded passengers were unable to find airline representatives at the counter. One travel agent in Abu Dhabi said the Indian carrier had to cancel the flights when too many pilots left for the holidays, and attributed the cancellations to mismanagement.
A number the affected travellers hailed from low-income groups and suffered the extra inconvenience of their visas expiring because of the delays, said Premjit Bangara, the travel manager at Sharaf Travel in Dubai. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org