Those looking to travel to India can look forward to an increase in ticket prices for certain flight segments starting March 26. This is because Air India and Air India Express are tweaking their network resulting in cancellation of several Air India flights to Kozhikode, Indore and Goa and they are replaced by Air India Express flights.
Air India spokesman PP Singh said it was a decision based purely on feasibility. “We have to look at our various permutations and see where we can fly,” he said. “According to the decision of the headquarters, they have re-scheduled the flights. We will increase the flights to Delhi and Mumbai.”
According to local travel agencies, since news of the change broke, airfares on several sectors in India have increased. “Those who want to travel this summer will have to pay higher fares,” said Afi Ahmed, managing director of Smart Travels.
“Additionally, this creates a lot of inconvenience for passengers with reduced mobility as Air India is the only Indian airline that can transport passengers in wheelchairs. This will have a major impact.”
Air India shared the new flight schedule in a notice to travel agencies:
Local travel agents called Air India’s decision disappointing. “Air India has been slowly withdrawing from various sectors, especially in Kerala,” said Sudheesh, managing director of Deira Travels. “They are no longer flying to Kannur or Trivandrum. From March 25 , they will stop flights to Kozhikode.”
That would be a setback for the Indian community, Sudheesh said. “Instead of getting a larger full-service carrier that can carry structural boxes (wheelchairs), what they get is a smaller, lower-cost carrier,” he said. More flexibility can be provided. That will certainly lead to higher fares this summer and beyond.”
Earlier this month, Air India downgraded its Cochin-bound flights from Dreamliner aircraft to smaller A321 aircraft, a fact confirmed by an Air India spokesman. “We have diverted these Dreamliners to Mumbai and Delhi,” Singh said.
According to Sudheesh, this has several adverse consequences. “Right now, those who fly into Cochin and want to fly business class or first class can only fly Emirates,” he said.
In January 2022, loss-making national carrier Air India was taken over by the Tata Group. Since then, there have been some changes within the airline, including a round of voluntary retirements for staff and a big order for new planes last month.
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