State-run national carrier Air India (AI)on Monday began a direct service from Bangalore to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to meet the growing demand for flights between the two prominent destinations.
"As part of our summer schedule, we have introduced a direct flight to Dubai and back. The service will be initially operated three days in a week - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Once traffic picks up, we plan to increase the frequency between the two fastest-growing cities," an AI spokesman told IANS.
The A-320 Airbus, with a capacity to carry 145 passengers, including crew, will take-off from Dubai at 10.05 a.m. (local time) to arrive in Bangalore at 2.45 p.m. (IST) and leave on return trip at 3.20 p.m. (IST) to reach Dubai at 5.30 p.m. (local time).
"Though we have timed the direct flight with the opening up of the new Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) that was originally scheduled to operate from Sunday, we have decided to go ahead with the service from the existing HAL airport, as the summer schedule was already drawn up," the official said.
In addition, AI also operates a direct service to Sharjah from Bangalore four days a week - Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with a planeload factor (PLF) of about 70 percent.
"There is a lot of expatriate traffic between Indian cities and Gulf states. Prior to the merger of AI and Indian, the international carrier (Maharaja) was operating an additional flight to Dubai from Mumbai via Bangalore and back. Post-merger, the single entity has decided to operate a direct flight," the spokesman pointed out.
Competition from other airlines notwithstanding, AI claims to have about 70 percent PLF from Bangalore to UAE destinations. Indian is, in effect, resuming a flight to Dubai in the new avatar (AI) after the service was suspended for over three months.
A return ticket fare to Dubai is priced at Rs.10,000 excluding taxes and surcharges, and basic one-way fare is Rs.6000.
Besides AI (erstwhile Indian), Emirates, Gulf Air and Air Arabia offer direct services from Bangalore to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Muscat and Sharjah.
All international airlines are looking forward to increase the frequency of their flights to the lucrative Gulf market once BIA is launched at Devanahalli in the next two months.