x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Flydubai delays India flights over 'operational issues'

The budget airline flydubai has delayed its first flights to India, due to begin on Monday, leaving disappointed passengers seeking refunds.

The budget airline flydubai has delayed its first flights to India, due to begin on Monday, leaving disappointed passengers seeking refunds and travel vouchers. The carrier cited "operational issues" yesterday in making the decision and did not offer a revised date for the service to start. Flights to India were first announced about two weeks ago. "We understand that this is very inconvenient for the passengers who have booked flights with us to India, and we apologise for the disruption and disappointment caused," said flydubai's chief executive, Ghaith al Ghaith.

Affected passengers would be offered a full refund in addition to a voucher for free travel on any of flydubai's routes until the end of November, he said. "India remains an important market for us and we will make an announcement in the very near future on when our flights to the region will begin," he added. Indian air travel is a huge market: more than one million Indians live in the UAE. A report by ArabianBusiness.com last week said the Indian Air Force had refused flydubai permission to land in Chandigarh, where the carrier's flight was scheduled to touch down at 11pm local time. Civilian airlines are not allowed to land at the hub after 10pm, in accordance with air force rules.

A spokeswoman for flydubai said she could not offer any further information on the reason behind the postponement, or whether the Indian Air Force's refusal to permit a landing after curfew was a factor. But the airline had said in an earlier statement that "flydubai has been granted the rights to fly to Chandigarh based on the agreement between the governments of India and the UAE" and the final pieces of the operation were being worked out.

"We do not anticipate any issues that cannot be resolved," the statement continued. "We're the first international carrier to fly to Chandigarh, so that means there is a little more co-ordination needed. Flydubai is excited about operating the first international flight to Chandigarh and we are working closely with the authorities to make this historic event a success." Since launching on June 1, the low-cost airline, based at Dubai International Airport, has introduced flights to Alexandria, Damascus, Amman and Beirut. Last month flydubai announced it was cutting its fares by half on those routes.

The airline expects to operate between 14 and 16 destinations in the Middle East, GCC and India by the end of the year. For more information, contact flydubai's call centre at 04 301 0800. relass@thenational.ae