x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Budget airline announces new flights to India

A low-cost airline has announced new flights to the Indian cities of Hyderabad, Kochi and Chennai.

DUBAI // A relatively new budget airline today announced new routes from Dubai to Indian cities, giving cheaper travel options to low- and middle-income Indian workers.

The low-cost carrier IndiGo said it will soon fly to the south Indian cities of Hyderabad, Kochi and Chennai. A large number of blue-collared workers have come from those cities to work in the emirate.

"We will start new flights from Dubai to Hyderabad on August 7," said Aditya Ghosh, president of IndiGo, which began operations between Dubai and the Indian cities of Mumbai and New Delhi in July of last year.

"We are concentrating on southern India, so we are going to start new flights to Kochi and Chennai from August 25," he said today during a press conference in Dubai.

The announcement came amid an ongoing pilot strike at the government-owned carrier Air India that has led to fight cancellations and has upset the holiday plans of hundreds of expatriates in the UAE. The strike began on May 7 after 400 pilots from the Indian Pilots' Guild protested the management's decision to allow pilots of the former Indian Airlines, which merged with Air India last year, to fly the company's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

Mr Ghosh said his airline had already flown over 100,000 passengers from Dubai and operated 555 flights since commencing operations last year.

MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador to the UAE, said the cheaper travel would help many of the low- and middle-income, non-resident Indians in the Emirates.

"One of the strong demands of the community here is to have access to economical and efficient means of transport," he said at the press conference, adding that expatriates have previously demanded charter services to Kerala and flights out of Fujairah.

The IndiGo president said that Indian tourists and businessmen to the UAE will be able to get visas along with their airline tickets on the carrier's website in the next few weeks.

The airline has also launched an Arabic version of its website.

pkannan@thenational.ae